The Denver Nuggets (40-18) are in action for their final game before the All-Star Break this weekend as they welcome the Dallas Mavericks (31-28) to town. The Nuggets are coming home following a three-game road trip where they went 2-1 on the East coast. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have lost back-to-back games by a combined eight points coming into tonight. 

For the Nuggets, they’re heading into the break with everyone aside from Nikola Jokic getting the entire break to rest, and they have a chance to carry a healthy five-game lead into the break. This will be the fourth and final meeting between these teams this year, and the Nuggets need a win to secure a split in the season series following losses back in November and December.

For the Mavericks, they’re 2-2 since acquiring Kyrie Irving, and they needed a huge comeback against the Minnesota Timberwolves to make it a close game after trailing by as many as 26 at home. Between Luka Doncic and Irving, they have all of the guard talent that they need. Against a Nuggets’ roster that is a tad shallow at guard right now, it will be interesting to see how Denver handles that pairing.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (40-18, 26-4 home) vs Dallas Mavericks (31-28, 12-18 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Expected Starting Lineups:

DAL: PG Luka Doncic, SG Kyrie Irving, SF Tim Hardaway Jr., PF Josh Green, C Dwight Powell

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Jamal Murray (knee) QUESTIONABLE, Zeke Nnaji (shoulder) OUT, Collin Gillsespie (leg) OUT, Aaron Gordon (rib) QUESTIONABLE, Reggie Bullock (illness) QUESTIONABLE, Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE, Christian Wood (illness) QUESTIONABLE, Davis Bertans (calf) OUT, Maxi Kleber (hamstring) OUT

Three Things to Watch

3-Point Battle

When these two teams matched up in December, Denver gave up a 47.2 percent shooting night from 3-point range to the Mavericks. Specifically, Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith, now with the Brooklyn Nets, shot a combined 15-of-27 from downtown. The only Nugget that made more than two triples in the game was Bones Hyland, who is now with the LA Clippers. If Dallas gets hot early, things could get hairy. 

Guarding the Guards

There is a greater than zero chance that Jamal Murray isn’t going to play tonight, and, despite the signing of Reggie Jackson, the team is a little shallow at the guard spot as he’s unlikely to play tonight. Kyrie and Luka are two of the best offensive guards the NBA has seen over the last decade, and Denver will have their hands slowing them down. They would be wise to make them both work more on defense to wear them down for offense.

Second-Unit Minutes

Assuming at least one of Murray or Aaron Gordon are absent from this game, along with Zeke Nnaji, who has already been ruled out, the Nuggets’ second unit is going to be stretched a little thinner. The Mavericks aren’t the deepest group either, but Christian Wood is a guy that can give your team fits if he gets rolling early on while Denver doesn’t have a ton of offensive creators on their current second unit.