Gameday Report: Clippers face Nuggets in crucial late season tilt
presented by CarMax
The Clippers (31-27) will travel to take on the Denver Nuggets (33-27) on Tuesday. Denver is currently eighth in the Western Conference, with LA sitting just one game back in ninth.
Here are a few things to look out for in Tuesday’s matchup:
West teams need wins –
Simply put, only a few teams in the NBA currently need wins as badly as the Clippers and the Nuggets.
The Western Conference is daily undergoing a facelift when it comes to its Playoff standings. For instance, after Saturday night, Oklahoma City fell from fifth to seventh with its loss to Golden State and Portland moved from seventh to fifth with their win over Phoenix. Denver sat in sixth and New Orleans remained in eighth.
However, after Sunday’s slate of games, things changed. Denver lost to Houston, falling to eighth, and New Orleans bested Milwaukee, jumping all the way to sixth.
And on Monday, New Orleans defeated Phoenix, leapfrogging Portland into fifth, and Minnesota defeated Sacramento, hopping over San Antonio into third.
Needless to say, after Tuesday’s game between LA and Denver, there will be more shake-ups, and the trend will most likely continue until the end of the season, with only 3.5 games separating the fourth-seeded Spurs from the ninth-seeded Clippers as of Tuesday.
New-look vs. new energy –
The Clippers and Nuggets faced off once this season so far, with LA defeating Denver, 109-104, on Jan. 17 at STAPLES Center. But that matchup won’t represent much of a preview of Tuesday’s game.
In that game, the Clippers started forward Blake Griffin and center Willie Reed, both of whom are no longer donning a Clippers uniform. In addition, center DeAndre Jordan, forward Danilo Gallinari and guard Austin Rivers were all sidelined with injuries.
Still, the Clippers emerged victorious, behind 17 points from guard Lou Williams, 15 from guard Milos Teodosic, and 18 from forward Montrezl Harrell off the bench.
In Tuesday’s tilt, the Clippers will barely resemble the squad that faced the Nuggets on Jan. 17. Rivers will be back at guard, Jordan will be back at center and Tobias Harris will be at one of the forwards. LA is also hoping that Gallinari can return to the lineup after missing Friday’s game with a right hand contusion. He is listed as day-to-day.
However, while Denver may be trotting out the same guys that it did just over a month ago, the Nuggets aren’t the same team anymore either, namely due to the recent play of center Nikola Jokic, who is on a historic tear as of late.
Over the last five games, Jokic is averaging 24.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 11.0 assists, while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from three. He has six triple-doubles this season, three of which came in the past four games and four in the month of February.
On Feb. 15 at Milwaukee, Jokic recorded the fastest triple-double in NBA history, collecting his 10th assist with 1:54 left in the second quarter, and in the month of February, Jokic is averaging 22.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 9.6 assists in nine games.
Tuesday’s game will tip-off at 7:30 PST.