NBA Game Preview: Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets

Jan 5, 2023

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Game: Los Angeles Clippers @ Denver Nuggets

Time: 10:00 p.m.

Odds: Clippers +5, Nuggets -5

Total:  226

Aaron Gordon was viewed as a crucial component for a run at the NBA championship when the Denver Nuggets acquired him at the 2021 trade deadline. Those NBA title hopes were dashed when Jamal Murray ruptured his left ACL shortly after.

Nearly two years after the trade, Murray is back, the bench has been strengthened with seasoned and versatile players, and Denver is starting to resemble the team that was anticipated. Nearly halfway through the season, the Nuggets are tied for the lead in the Western Conference. Tonight, they will host the Los Angeles Clippers in an effort to gain some ground on Memphis.

In the first of back-to-back games, both on the road, Los Angeles, which has lost three straight, might be without stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. In Monday’s loss to Miami, George strained his right hamstring while Leonard was battling a non-COVID illness. George missed time earlier this season with a similar injury and is listed as questionable. Leonard is probable for tonight.

Due to injuries, the Clippers have struggled to establish a routine this season. Before the current losing streak, they had won seven of their previous nine games. Los Angeles has had Leonard and George healthy and in the lineup at the same time for less than half of the season. George and Leonard have only played 14 games together so far this season. That has made it difficult on head coach Tyronn Lue as he works to figure out the best combinations of lineups.

After having to deal with numerous injuries to important players over the previous two seasons, the Nuggets can relate to Lue and the Clippers. Murray, who missed the entire 2021–22 season while recovering from an ACL reconstruction surgery, is still on the road to recovery. In order to manage his recovery and optimize his performance, head coach Michael Malone and the Nuggets monitor his minutes and keep him out of some games. Murray will be in the lineup tonight.

Denver is still in a fantastic position for the second half of the season despite all of this. The Nuggets have already played 20 road games and nine of their next 10 will be at home, where they are 14-3 so far this season.

The Nuggets have endured losing Michael Porter Jr. for an extended period of time due to a heel injury, as well as Nikola Jokic missing three games due to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Nuggets have also suffered through some bad games, including a home loss to Detroit, which has the NBA’s third-worst record at 11-30. Malone believes his team has not yet reached its full potential.

Jeff Green, who is out with a fractured hand, will miss the game tonight. Rookie Christian Braun has filled in for Green. Collin Gillespie and Peyton Watson are also listed as out for Denver. Nicolas Batum is also out for the Clippers, who are 9-4 ATS over their last 13 games. Denver is 7-2 SU in its last nine games and 8-0 SU in the last eight at home.

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