The Denver Nuggets have regained their confidence after going 5-0 on a recent homestand and climbing up to third place in the Western Conference. They will need that confidence if they want to continue their win streak against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight on NBA TV.

Of course, the Lakers sit atop the West with a 24-5 record, one of those wins which came at Denver’s expense just a few weeks ago. Tonight, things will be different as LeBron James is likely to miss his first game of the season due to a thoraric muscle strain.

While this is advantageous to the Nuggets, it doesn’t mean the Lakers will just roll over. Anthony Davis is having a monster year on both ends of the floor, most recently putting up 36-10-5 in the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Stopping him will be the key to a Nuggets victory.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (19-8) at Los Angeles Lakers (24-5)

When: 7:30 PM MST

Where: Staples Center

How to Watch/listen: Altitude/NBA TV

Rival Blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Position Nuggets Lakers
PG Jamal Murray Rajon Rondo
SG Gary Harris Danny Green
SF Will Barton III Kyle Kuzma
PF Paul Millsap Anthony Davis
C Nikola Jokic JaVale McGee
Bench Monte Morris, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Michael Porter Jr Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley

Injury Report: LeBron James – doubtful (back)

Three Things to Watch

Can Denver take advantage of a LeBron-less Lakers? The Lakers are a two-headed beast with LeBron and AD, so when one of them doesn’t play it’s a prime opportunity to steal a win on the road. For some reason, however, the Nuggets think it’s fun to play to the competition which means anything can happen. LeBron is the engine that keeps L.A. moving – his playmaking (he’s basically the point guard) and 10.6 assists per game will be difficult to replace. Plus, with Denver’s weakness at guarding bigger wings, not having LeBron there enables a greater focus on stopping Davis.

Nikola Jokic vs. Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis is a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year (in part due to the Lakers’ hype train, but he’s still a very good defender). In the game on December 3, AD locked up Jokic in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to help seal the win for the Lakers and that was all anyone could talk about. However, that was also a different Jokic back then. The Jokic of just three weeks later is averaging 22.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the last five games and looks like the All-NBA talent from last season. How Jokic stacks up this go around will be fun to watch.

Denver’s bench. Denver’s bench continues to be inconsistent, not only in the varying rotations but in output as well. Time and time again the second unit has come into games and Nugget leads have evaporated shortly thereafter. It sure would be a confidence builder to come out and have a strong performance, especially on the road against a pretty solid group of guys.