Not having Jamal Murray or Aaron Gordon available could give the Denver Nuggets some worry when facing the Dallas Mavericks, but history provides comfort.
Murray, Gordon and Nikola Jokic missed a game at Dallas on Nov. 20 and Denver pulled out a 98-97 win that night. The Mavericks got revenge with a one-point win against the Nuggets on Dec. 6, and they can win the four-game season series when the teams meet in Denver on Wednesday night.
Murray has missed five games with right knee inflammation, which coach Michael Malone said might be a result of compensating for his surgically repaired left knee. The Nuggets don’t think the injury is too serious but have kept him out of the lineup out of caution.
Murray and Gordon are both formally listed as questionable for Wednesday, but with the All-Star break coming up this weekend, it’s likely that Murray sits to give him more than three weeks to settle down his knee.
Gordon has missed two games with a left rib contusion, and he has battled a sore shoulder most of the season.
Denver has learned to play without its second- and third-leading scorers. The Nuggets won at Charlotte on Saturday and beat the Heat in Miami on Monday night to complete a 2-1 road trip. They sit atop the Western Conference and are guaranteed to hold that spot after Wednesday.
Denver got good play from its bench players as well as another near triple-double from Nikola Jokic (27 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) in the 112-108 win over the Heat.
“It speaks to the quality of our depth,” Malone said.
The Nuggets will get their first and — barring a postseason meeting — only look at the new-look Mavericks since they acquired Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets. Dallas has lost both games with Luka Doncic and Irving in the lineup but has time to figure out the chemistry.
The Mavericks seemed to find something in a three-point loss to Minnesota on Monday night. Doncic scored 33 points and Irving had 36, with 26 coming in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Irving turned it over.
“It’s on me to be smarter in those situations,” Irving said. “I really wanted this one tonight, at home. … Didn’t go our way. To all Dallas fans I apologize; not even getting a shot off.”
The Mavericks could be getting more talent soon, but not in time to face Jokic. ESPN reported Monday night that LaMarcus Aldridge was working out for Dallas on Tuesday. Aldridge, a seven-time All-Star, hasn’t played this season after averaging 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 47 games for Brooklyn last year.
If Aldridge signs with the Mavericks, he has the chance to provide depth and another defensive presence in the frontcourt. Dallas traded away one of its best defenders, Dorian Finney-Smith, to the Nets in the deal that brought Irving to the team.
According to multiple reports, Denver plans to sign Reggie Jackson and is expected to have him in the fold after the All-Star break. Jackson was bought out by Charlotte after being acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline.
–Field Level Media