The Denver Nuggets continue to silence critics who believe they aren’t a legitimate NBA title contender. After a 27-12 start which has left them atop the Western Conference for a decent amount of the season, they’ve continued to impress. Their next test comes in the form of a surprising Los Angeles Clippers team that has drastically exceeded expectations to this point.
The two top-five teams in the West will meet in Denver on Thursday, where the Nuggets boast a 16-3 home record. Both teams have been solid as of late by winning seven of their last 10 games while Denver has taken six of seven behind multiple well-rounded team efforts.
On the other side, the Clippers have won three straight coming into this game with each victory coming by double-digits. They also knocked off the Nuggets 132-111 back on December 22 in a game played in Los Angeles.
The Nuggets may be without starting guard Gary Harris, so we’re going to break down their roster, starting lineup and the latest on his injury status.
Nuggets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Clippers
*Notates expected starter
C: Nikola Jokic*, Mason Plumlee
PF: Paul Millsap*, Juan Hernangomez, Tyler Lydon
SF: Torrey Craig*, Trey Lyles
SG: Malik Beasley*
PG: Jamal Murray*, Monte Morris, Brandon Goodwin
How the Nuggets’ starting lineup looks obviously depends on Harris, but the guard sat out last game, leading to Malik Beasley stepping in for him. Beasley played big minutes in a spot start (36) but struggled to produce much, scoring just nine points while going 1-6 from beyond the arc. He dished out two assists and one rebound but had performed far better in previous instances where he filled in for Harris.
The 22-year-old guard has been solid as of late when given decent minutes, so another game in the starting five should lead to a bounce-back performance from Beasley.
While multiple members of the Nuggets have impressed this season, no one deserves more praise than center Nikola Jokic. The former second-round pick has been superb, specifically during the most recent stretch. Through five games in January, he’s averaged 27.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. On the year, Jokic is averaging 19.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field.
Latest on Gary Harris Injury
UPDATE: Gary Harris has been ruled out for Thursday’s game.
It’s been a tough run as of late for Harris, who’s battled various leg injuries throughout his career. He’s played in just 25 games this season and missed nearly the entire month of December. When Harris did return, he was forced from his fourth game back in the second half and proceeded to miss the Nuggets’ most recent game against the Miami Heat on Thursday.
As Harrison Wend of BSNDenver.com revealed, Harris is dealing with left hamstring tightness and has been listed as questionable for the game against the Clippers.
It seems Harris is currently day-to-day with the injury, but the Nuggets would likely be wise to hold him out until he’s very close to 100 percent. We’ll update this post as additional information on his status Thursday comes out.