Game Preview: Kings (2-1) vs. Nuggets (1-1)


Ok, folks. The Kings just beat the Clippers in Los Angeles. This could get interesting.

Denver is a rough place to play. The well-documented high altitude will always be an issue for incoming teams, but playing in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back? That’s just unfair.

From a talent standpoint, Denver is a few notches below the Kings first three opponents, but they are still a solid, deep, fast paced squad. If the Kings didn’t play last night in Los Angeles, I’d like their chances a lot more. That was an emotional, draining, hard fought victory, and I can see a potential letdown game coming. However, the Kings were 2-1 against The Nuggets last season, winning the lone game played in Denver.

Keys to the Game:

Bench Contribution: The Kings starters played heavy minutes yesterday in Los Angeles. Michael Malone did what he had to do to secure the win, and when the bench is playing this poor, you’ve got to ride the starters. Omri Casspi and Carl Landry have been solid, but outside of that the Kings just haven’t been productive without Rudy Gay or DeMarcus Cousins on the court. Considering the circumstances surrounding tonight’s game, I would imagine that Malone is going to rely heavily on the Kings bench. That means Ramon Sessions and Nik Stauskas are going to have to contribute.

Transition Defense: The Nuggets like to run, and the Kings of years past didn’t like to get back on defense. We’ve seen a pretty big improvement in this department through the first three games of the season, but playing in Denver is unique. The Kings are going to be tired, the Nuggets are going to push the ball, and if the Kings don’t get back on defense, this could get ugly. One of the best ways to stop transition offense is to limit turnovers. Despite the 2-1 record, the Kings are still turning the ball over at an alarming rate. They can’t do that tonight.

Ready for Anything: Denver is a weird team with a strange mix of pieces that usually play well together. They are also unpredictable. Kenneth Faried will go for 22 points, 17 rebounds one night, then 7 points, 6 rebounds the next. Ty Lawson hasn’t been the Ty Lawson we’re used to seeing thus far. Danillo Gallinari is still trying to find his rhythm after missing a lot of time last season. Denver coach Brian Shaw has used (the maximum allowed) twelve players in both of the Nuggets games this season. Almost everyone on the roster is averaging over ten minutes per game. What does any of this mean? Maybe nothing, but Denver plays a style you can’t really prepare for, at a location you can’t really prepare for. The message? Prepare for anything.

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  • The Line: The Nuggets are 7-point favorites tonight. The Kings have been the underdog in every game this season, and for good reason. This team is playing well, no doubt about that, but we don’t have a big enough sample size. It’s just too early. And with all that being said, I’m taking the Kings +7 tonight. Yes, I’ve taken the Kings and the points in every game this season (2-1 overall). Similar to the Clippers game, I don’t expect the Kings to win, but I like those seven points.

    Final Thoughts: The Kings will play the Nuggets in Denver tonight, and then again in Sacramento on Wednesday. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Kings and Nuggets will each win one at home. The Kings aren’t supposed to win tonight, but you could have also said that when they played the Blazers and the Clippers.