The big showdown between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers takes place on Saturday night. The Nuggets come to LA following eight wins in nine matches and hope to defeat the big rivals and take over their third spot in the Western Conference. On the other side, we have the Clippers, who have certain problems with injured players, coming off a two-game losing skid which saw them losing in New Orleans and Phoenix. Yet, the upcoming four matches LAC has are all at Staples, and they want to redeem for the recent failures by starting a long winning streak.
Denver Nuggets (42-21, -102) will have a nightmare ending of the year, with seven of their nine games coming on the road. And to make it even worse, the opponents won’t be easy at all – Clippers, Lakers, Jazz, Knicks, Nets, etc. But if Michael Malone’s team wants to be recognized as one of the best in the NBA, they will need to step up here and prove that.
Nikola Jokic needs to show up in these few matches and shut down all those who disrespect him, not acknowledging all the incredible performances he delivered this season. The Joker scored 19 points with 11 boards against the Raptors in 28 minutes and was again the most impactful player on the court.
Michael Porter Jr had a team-high 23 buckets with seven assists, while Facundo Campazzo added 12. JaMychal Green scored 15 off the bench in 21 minutes. The Nuggets controlled the glass well, with 47 boards, 12 more than the Raptors.
LA Clippers (43-21, -116) lost in Phoenix following a tough battle, 109-101. Tyronn Lue couldn’t count on Leonard, Ibaka, and Patrick Beverly, three of his most consistent defenders in the starting five. Phoenix seized control of the game right from the start and never looked back. Despite having the moments in which LAC had pushes, the Suns were always ahead.
However, we need to say that the main reason for the defeat in this match isn’t injured players, but a poor contribution off the bench. Clippers’ non-starters delivered just 24 points. That is way too low.
Paul George was the best in the guests’ crew with 25 points, yet with an under average shooting percentage, 9-for-21. PG also had 10 rebounds and four assists. Marcus Morris Sr. recorded 16 points, and Ivica Zubac 14.
Head to Head Games
In two previous meetings, both teams posted one win. The first game of the season in late December, saw the Clips beating the Nuggets in Colorado, 121-108. However, Denver got even one month ago, taking down the Clippers in LA, 101-94.
If the situation with the Clippers’ injured players remains the same, and those three above-mentioned guys aren’t ready to play, our pick here would be Denver. Yes, we know that they play on the road and don’t have Jamal Murray, but on the other side, the Nuggets have Jokic and Porter Jr. The latter one exploded recently, and we are constantly mentioning that in our reviews. Just remember what we said about the Nuggets’ performance if MPJ starts playing well following Murray’s injury. Malone’s team has just one defeat since the injury of their starting guard, and that says a lot.
Pick: Denver Wins
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.