(Photo Via: by Harry How/Getty Images)
Nuggets can match best start since 2009-10 with win tonight.
The Nuggets have had the pleasure of playing LeBron in his first preseason appearance as a Laker and his first preseason home game at the Staples Center, both on national television.
Tonight the Nuggets take on the Lakers as Denver heads back to Los Angeles for the fifth time this month, for the third time on national TV. Obviously LeBron James is the reason this game gets TNT’s night cap, but the Nuggets may be the more compelling storyline on this night.
Denver comes in at 4-0, atop the Western Conference standings, while the Lakers are coming off their first win last night in Phoenix to improve their record to 1-3.
There are a couple of reasons why the Nuggets should be favored and expected to win tonight even on the road. The NBA recently ruled favorably for the Denver Nuggets in giving Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram three and four game suspensions respectively. The suspensions will keep the two out of tonight’s game. Rondo recorded 18 assists in 44 preseason minutes against the Nuggets while Ingram scored 16 points in the preseason opener.
Ultimately, the Lakers still have Kuzma, Ball, Hart, Stephenson, and KCP to fill the holes around LeBron, but coming off a back-to-back in Phoenix should still give the Nuggets a slight advantage. The only negative from last night’s game against the Suns was that only KCP played more than 30 minutes, so the Lakers come in slightly more rested than a typical back-to-back.
Denver comes into the game extremely well rested after not only having a day off between games but also getting their starters rest for the entire fourth quarter against the Kings on Tuesday night.
The Nuggets also have the advantage of having played the Lakers while down a starter. In the preseason Gary Harris didn’t play in either Lakers game, giving Torrey Craig the start and the opportunity to guard LeBron. The same will be true tonight with Barton out for the next several weeks. Craig played well against Kevin Durant on Sunday and will be tasked with another challenge tonight.
Of course this is also the first look at the Nuggets-Lakers regular season “rivalry” from last year’s beef between the Lakers and Jamal Murray. With Ball starting and a similar group of young guys from last season’s team it could be something to watch how Murray is greeted by the Staples Center crowd and how he plays throughout the game.
Welcome to our mentions, Lakers fans! pic.twitter.com/9sSrClOT0P
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 25, 2018
Tonight’s game tips off at 8:30 p.m. (MST) at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game will air on TNT.
Los Angeles Lakers Projected Starters
PG – Lozo Ball
SG – Josh Hart
SF – LeBron James
PF – Kyle Kuzma
C – JaVale McGee
Denver Nuggets Projected Starters
PG – Jamal Murray
SG – Gary Harris
SF – Torrey Craig
PF – Paul Millsap
C – Nikola Jokic
This is only the Nuggets second road game of the season but it’s also their second road game at the Staples Center where the Nuggets have made a home in October. Against the Clippers, the Nuggets used their new-found maturity to not let the game get away from them late in the fourth. Despite several advantages for the Nuggets tonight you can never count out LeBron James. It’s possible tonight’s game could be close if one of the aspects of the Nuggets game that has brought them success (bench, defense, shooting) is missing like against the Clippers and Warriors so far this year.
The Nuggets have taken the mindset that every game matters to heart so far this season and they’ll have a chance to prove it on the national stage tonight. Expect the Nuggets focus to be at as high of a level as we’ve seen this season as they look to improve to 5-0 and maintain the top spot in the West.