Photo: David Zalubowski – The Associated Press
With just three games remaining in the regular season, the Nuggets are gunning for their fifth straight victory and to ultimately keep pace in the Western Conference standings.
Where: Los Angeles, California – Staples Center
When: 1:30 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment – NBA TV – Altitude Sports Radio 950 AM
For the Nuggets, the recipe for the next three games is simple, win all three and they’ll be in the playoffs. The Nuggets are currently tied record wise with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the T-Wolves are ahead in the standings by virtue of tiebreakers. The good news for the Nuggets is that they’ll be able to secure the tiebreaker against the T-Wolves with a victory in the two teams final matchup next Wednesday. The Nuggets still need to take care of business before they worry about their matchup next Wednesday in Minnesota though, and that starts Saturday in Los Angeles.
Saturday’s game isn’t just important for the Nuggets to catch the teams they’re chasing in the West, but to ultimately create more space from the Clippers who are the only team chasing them in the standings. The Clippers sit two games behind the Nuggets for the ninth spot, and a loss on Saturday would almost all but eliminate them from playoff contention. A victory for the Nuggets on Saturday wouldn’t just improve their playoff chances, but it would also improve their ability to capture a higher seed. The Nuggets are just a game behind the fifth seeded San Antonio Spurs, and a victory on Saturday would put even more pressure on all the teams the Nuggets are chasing.
The last time these two teams played was one of the worst Nuggets meltdowns of the season. The Nuggets held a double-digit lead late in the second half, but still found a way to suffer one of their worst losses of the season when the Clippers beat them 122-120. Still, the Nuggets have a chance to right the ship at the Staples Center on Saturday, but they’ll have to find a way to stop DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams in order to do so. Jordan currently leads the NBA in rebounding at a clip of 15.3 per game, with almost five of those coming on the offensive end of the court. The Nuggets did a good job holding Jordan off the boards in the two teams last matchup as Jordan hauled in just nine rebounds in the one game he’s played against the Nuggets this season.
With Lou Williams, the potential sixth-man of the year has had a breakout year and has finally found a home with the Clippers. After signing a three-year deal with the Clippers around the NBA’s trade deadline, Williams now has stability and won’t have to worry about being traded like in years past. Williams leads the Clippers in points per game at 22.5 and is shooting an impressive 43.6 percent from the field. Williams shooting percentage is what really stands out as he’s shot the ball so effectively while shooting almost 17 shots per game. If the Nuggets want to walk away Saturday with a victory, they’ll have to find a way to slow Williams down on the offensive end of the floor.
The Nuggets will be looking for their fifth straight win on Saturday and their winning streak couldn’t be coming at a more perfect time. The end of the season is when everything is suppose to come together in hopes of making a playoff run, and that’s what seems to be happening for the Nuggets. After an improbable victory over the Bucks and a strong victory over the Timberwolves, the Nuggets are flying high and the best part is that they’re being led by their best player, Nikola Jokic.
In Jokic’s last three games he’s combined to score 81 points and has collected a total of 33 rebounds. Jokic now leads the Nuggets in all three major categories averaging 18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, and six assists per game. Jokic has been aggressive on the offensive end of the floor and is displaying the most confidence he’s played with all season. Even after shooting just 6-20 in the Nuggets last game, expect Jokic to come out firing on Saturday and hopefully will the Nuggets to one of their biggest victories of the season.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage of the Nuggets and Clippers.