For only the second time this season, Nikola Jokic won’t play in a game for the Denver Nuggets.
The All-NBA center is missing the Nuggets’ Wednesday night game against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to lower back pain, the team announced.
Jokic missed his only other game this season on Nov. 27, also due to back pain. Denver still defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on the road 113-104 without him.
Wednesday’s matchup is pivotal game as a half a game separates the two teams from the second and third spot in Northwest Division. The Nuggets (33-15) are less than a game behind the division-leading Minnesota Timberwolves (33-14) while the Thunder (32-15) need a win to trim its minuscule deficit.
Without Jokic on the floor, Denver will be missing his 26.3 points per game, 12.1 rebounds and 9.0 assists. The latter two averages rank third and fourth in the NBA, respectively.
On Monday, in 113-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Jokic recorded 25 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.
This is the fourth, and final, game between Oklahoma City and Denver. The Nuggets are 1-2 in the series.