Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder Preview


The Denver Nuggets look to re-enter the win column tonight (12/27) against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Denver Nuggets currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference after their blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs. With the loss to the Spurs, the Denver Nuggets have lost four out of their last five, including a loss to basement-dwelling Los Angeles Lakers. The Denver Nuggets, at times, look like a playoff team capable of taking down a juggernaut; however, as of late, the team is on the wrong end of the score line.

Next: Denver Nuggets Routed by Spurs, 101-86

The Denver Nuggets’ next five games present a tough task for the team. They face the Thunder, Cavaliers, Trailblazers (twice), and Warriors. With a tough schedule ahead of the Denver Nuggets, they must figure out a way to start winning games if the team does, in fact, want to make the playoffs. Injuries continue to limit the Denver Nuggets’ squad this season, with Emmanuel Mudiay and Jusuf Nurkic sidelined for various reasons.

With Mudiay sidelined due to an ankle sprain, Jameer Nelson took on the starting point guard duties, but at his age, he is just not the dynamic player he once was. However, due to Nurkic missing every game up to this point, the Denver Nuggets get to play their younger big men more than originally anticipated. Nikola Jokic comes off of, arguably, his best performance of the season against the Spurs, albeit in a losing fashion. Jokic posted 22 points and seven rebounds in the contest. 

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Nikola Jokic seems to be a bright, young talent for the Denver Nuggets, filling in nicely for Nurkic; however, he will have a tough task against Serge Ibaka tonight. Ibaka can stretch the floor with his range and can finish at the rim, so Jokic’s defensive ability will be put to the test. Jameer Nelson probably has the toughest task tonight guarding Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is one of the most dynamic point guards in the league, capable of a triple-double on a near-nightly basis.

In addition to Ibaka and Westbrook, Kevin Durant poses a huge problem for the Denver Nuggets. Danilo Gallinari is an offensive-first type of player, so Durant is, perhaps, in for a huge game tonight. The Denver Nuggets need huge games from Jokic, Gallinari, and Kenneth Faried. Kenneth Faried look poised for a big season this year; however, he has been slightly underwhelming, posting 12.4 PPG and 8.7 RPG. 

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If the Denver Nuggets can contain Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they stand a chance to win tonight’s game; however, that seems highly unlikely. Maybe, if the Denver Nuggets had Emmanuel Mudiay back, they would stand a chance to contain Westbrook, due to Mudiay being the superior defender. Mudiay is without a timetable for a return after his recent ankle injury, but he downplayed the injury saying that it was not as bad as the injury suffered in China.

The Denver Nuggets need a lot of things to go their way tonight in order to walk away with the win. The Thunder are, by far, the superior squad, so expect the Denver Nuggets to have a tough battle ahead of them tonight. Someone for the Denver Nuggets needs to step up if they want to have any chance of winning. Tipoff is at 5 pm (MST). After tonight’s game, the Denver Nuggets come home for one game to face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on 12/29.

Next: Denver Nuggets Routed by Spurs, 101-86

After the Denver Nuggets return home to face the Cavaliers, the head out on the road for two games, traveling to Portland and Golden State. With a 12-18 record, the Denver Nuggets might see their record continue to fall before it trends in a more positive direction.