Western Conference heavyweights the Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers will face off for the final time this season on Saturday. The teams have evenly split the previous two fixtures but the Nuggets are the team in form right now. In fact, Denver will claim the third seed in the West if they're able to beat the Clippers.
The Denver Nuggets are dealing with long-term injuries to multiple starters, but they've still managed to thrive. Mike Malone's men won 13 of their 16 games in April and currently boast a 42-21 record. Nikola Jokic has been playing at an MVP level all along while Michael Porter Jr. has ramped up his production.
The LA Clippers enter this game on the back of two consecutive losses, but they had won four in a row before that. Tyronn Lue's men didn't really struggle in April either despite dealing with nagging injuries. Paul George was the go-to guy for the team last month, averaging 27.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers: Injury Report
The Denver Nuggets' injury report largely consists of long-term absentees. Jamal Murray is out of the picture after undergoing surgery to repair his torn ACL. Both Will Barton and Monte Morris are suffering from their respective hamstring injuries.
Rookie Zeke Nnaji is the only new name to appear on the Nuggets' injury report. Nnaji is questionable with an ankle sprain. The power forward is a deep rotation guy, so even if he's available, he's unlikely to play much against the LA Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard has lost nine out of the last 10 games for the LA Clippers due to a sore foot, but head coach Ty Lue expressed hope of him being able to return against the Denver Nuggets. He's been listed as questionable for tonight's game.
Patrick Beverley is nearing a return after sustaining a fracture in his left hand, but he won't be playing against the Nuggets. There's still no update regarding Serge Ibaka, who has already missed 24 games with a back injury. Sophomore Amir Coffey has also been listed as out (health and safety protocols).
Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers: Predicted Lineups
Facundo Campazzo and PJ Dozier have done a commendable job as stand-in starters in place of Murray and Barton. Campazzo runs the point while Dozier operates in a two-way role.
Michael Porter Jr. has impressed everyone with his scoring ability and is starting to display some mettle on the defensive end. He'll be the starting small forward for the team. Porter will be joined by Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic in the frontcourt. Expect the likes of Paul Millsap, Austin Rivers and JaMychal Green to contribute off the bench.
Reggie Jackson will continue to start as the point guard in the absence of Patrick Beverley. He'll be joined by Paul George, who's been at the top of his game in recent weeks. Kawhi Leonard should make his return and slot in as the small forward. Marcus Morris will continue at the four. Ivica Zubac has thrived in Serge Ibaka's absence and he'll complete the starting five for the LA Clippers.
Terance Mann started the last five games but he'll move to a bench role with Leonard returning to action. Rajon Rondo will lead the second unit while Nicolas Batum and Luke Kennard will provide offensive firepower.
Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers: Predicted Starting 5s
Point Guard - Facundo Campazzo | Shooting Guard - PJ Dozier | Small Forward - Michael Porter Jr. | Power Forward - Aaron Gordon | Center - Nikola Jokic
Point Guard - Reggie Jackson | Shooting Guard - Paul George | Small Forward - Kawhi Leonard | Power Forward - Marcus Morris Sr. | Center - Ivica Zubac