The Western Conference’s leaders come to town in the form of a ‘Big Honey’ bear. At 15-7 the Nuggets sit 4.5 games back of the overall NBA throne, currently held by our lovable Toronto Raptors. The Raptors fresh off a trip to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame – and some basketball game, I’m sure – sit pretty at 20-4.
The Nuggets provide one of the most unique challenges league-wide, mostly because of the supremely talented Nikola Jokic, and their electric off-ball guards. Back cuts & flare screens & bears, oh my! The NBA’s very best offensive rebounding squad – by percentage at-least – looks to press the Raptors against the wall and get some easy second chance points.
For the first time this year, it might be prudent to discuss Pascal Siakam’s run-outs. They’re extremely fun, and as a fan watching the touchdown pass go up and be caught is riveting. Against a team with Paul Millsap, Jokic, and Juancho Hernangomez, I wonder if that’s a tough night on the glass.
Shockingly, the team has a better rebounding percentage with Siakam on the floor, than not. Even with his propensity to bust out on the break, but tonight might call for a bit more conservative play from him. This isn’t because he’s ruining the team on the defensive glass, but because his scoring has been so efficient outside of the break, that he might not need press for those opportunities the same way. Siakam is fast enough to start late in transition and still win the race. It’s a big ask, but his involvement on the boards tonight looms large over how this game might go. Keep an eye out for a lot of Siakam-bench minutes tonight, especially if Kyle Lowry can’t go.
With Lowry questionable for the game, Nurse might be a little reluctant to hand the ball over to Lorenzo Brown. Tonight offers a unique opportunity to give the Serge Ibaka-Jonas Valanciunas pairing a bit of time together tonight, in an effort to give his best players more time on the court in Lowry’s absence. Even if it comes in small stretches, the big duo could stagnate the Nuggets front-court for a short period of time if utilized correctly. With the Nuggets employing less pick n’ roll and working out of the post more often, Valanciunas’ biggest weakness is a little less pronounced.
*edit – Kyle Lowry will play per Blake Murphy da gawd.
TV: SportsNet One | Radio: TheFan590 | Tipoff: 7:30 EST
Kyle Lowry (back) is questionable for tonight’s game, and Norman Powell (shoulder) is still out.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown, Jordan Loyd
SG: Danny Green, CJ Miles, Malachi Richardson
SF: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka, Greg Monroe, Chris Boucher
There’s still no time-line for Isaiah Thomas’ (hip) or Will Barton’s (hip) return,
PG: Jamal Murray, Monte Morris
SG: Gary Harris, Malik Beasley
SF: Juancho Hernangomez, Torrey Craig
PF: Paul Millsap, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon
C: Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee, Thomas Welsh
The Raptors are 6.5 point favourites, and the over-under is 218.
Have a blessed day.