The Denver Nuggets are fresh off their first ever NBA championship and don’t look like they’re quite ready to be done adding to their trophy collection just yet. Nikola Jokic is a walking triple-double and Denver’s supporting cast is battle tested. If the Kings want to be the best, they’ll have to beat the best and Mike Malone’s Nuggets squad is about as good as it gets.
Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Saturday, December 2nd, 7:00 PM PT
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
TV: NBA TV, NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140
Three in the Key
The Nuggets played last night in Phoenix but did so without Jamal Murray or Aaron Gordon. It remains to be seen if either player will play for Denver tonight but even without them, this is a dangerous squad. Last night’s game against Phoenix was still a win for Denver, and they just recently beat the Clippers (the team that just thrashed the Kings) without Murray, Gordon or even Jokic himself. The Nuggets have also been very good so far on the second night of back to backs, having played four of them so far and winning each time. For the Kings, they’ll be hopeful to get Keegan Murray back in action, as he has missed the last few games with a lower back injury. Keegan was a full participant in practice yesterday but the team said they wanted to see how his back would respond before getting him back out there. If he can play, that will be a much needed boost to Sacramento’s wing depth and defense. The Kings have gone 6-2 so far in games in which their main starting lineup has been fully healthy.
The Jokic Problem
Nikola Jokic may just be one of the most unique players in NBA history. At 6’11 and 284 lbs, there’s little he can’t do. He’s currently averaging a career-high 28.6 points and leading the league in rebounding at 12.7 a game, and flirting with a triple-double every night thanks to his 9.6 assists a game. He can score inside, punish you with ridiculous passes if you double him and he can also hit crazy three pointers with defenders in his face. This man is the best player in the NBA until further notice, and it will be a tough task for the Kings to manage him. Domantas Sabonis has often been described as “Jokic-lite” but he’s coming off a couple of very rough games and will need to bounce back and make Jokic work on both ends of the floor so he doesn’t get comfortable.
The Kings only beat the Nuggets once last season, and it came in a game in which three Kings players (Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk) all scored 30+ points. Even then, Sacramento only won by a single point. The Nuggets were without Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon in that game as well, just like they may be tonight. The Kings will likely not be able to count on three players scoring 30 points again and will need more of a team effort this time. Guys like Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, Sasha Vezenkov and hopefully Keegan Murray will all need to hold their own to stop this potent Nuggets squad.
We have our second Kings game winner of the season as Domantas Sabonis unleashes some of his recent frustration by dunking on Nikola Jokic to win the game.
Kings 117, Nuggets 115
First Leaderboard will be posted on Monday’s preview and predictions post!