Can Denver get two blowouts in a row?
The Denver Nuggets are coming off their biggest blowout victory of the season. After a disappointing three game losing streak the Nuggets bounced back in a big way on Wednesday with a thirty-eight point blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now Denver tries to keep the good vibes going against their division rival, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder’s season is going about what you might expect: a bit rocky. They’re strong early start is now tempered by a fairly miserable back half of January and start to February and they’re coming off back to back losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, including a heart breaker on Wednesday. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been hampered by a knee injury and the entire OKC team is basically hurt but Al Horford is drinking from the fountain of youth as the new leader in the locker room. Still, there’s not a ton of talent on the roster. Lu Dort remains one of the most underrated players in the league, Kenrich Williams has some nice performances in the past week or so, but overall it’s clear this is a team who is rebuilding.
Who: Oklahoma City Thunder (10-14) at Denver Nuggets (13-11)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Ball Arena. Denver, CO.
How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. Altitude TV where available, League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Convince Ball Arena security you’re Old Man Winter and will break this cold snap in exchange for court side seats. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.
Rival blog: Welcome To Loud City
Player Availability: Gary Harris – out (adductor), P.J. Dozier – out (hamstring), Greg Whittington – out (knee); Isaiah Roby – questionable (foot), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – out (knee), Trevor Ariza – out (undisclosed), George Hill – out (thumb), The Maledon – out (health and safety protocol), Aleksej Pokusevski – out (G-League assignment), Ty Jerome – out (G-League assignment), Moses Brown – out (G-League assignment), Jos Hall – out (G-League assignment).
Three things to watch for
Key matchup: the Nuggets vs complacency
Denver was mad on Wednesday, there was no doubt about it. They were also focused. An angry and focused Nuggets team blows lesser teams out of the water as we saw on Wednesday. We also know they have a history of playing down to their competition. The Nuggets have to be cautious to not think that just because they came out and played a great game on Wednesday it means they are past the issues that got them into their recent three game losing streak. The only way the Thunder, especially with as banged up as they are, beat you is if you let them. The Nuggets need to remain focused and do to OKC just what they did to the Cavs: get up early, don’t look back and win by double digits.
Key point: Rooks will need to step up again
Without Harris and Dozier it’s a pretty solid guarantee that R.J. Hampton is going to see minutes again. Hampton has been very solid for Denver and his energy is through the roof. Zeke Nnaji also got minutes in the actual rotation on Wednesday and also exploded in garbage time. With the Thunder likely to play small (they really have no other choice) for big minutes I won’t be surprised to see Nnaji get the nod over Isaiah Hartenstein again tonight. Denver’s two first round picks need to continue to play strong and limit their mistakes. Tonight’s going to be another opportunity for these guys to show they are capable of playing regular NBA minutes and solidify their spot permanently in the rotation
Opening thought: No screw ups
Blow. Them. Out. Nothing else is acceptable.