On Tuesday afternoon, the Denver Nuggets released their injury report, noting that two-time MVP Nikola Jokić will miss Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks due to health and safety protocols for COVID-19.

Jokić joins point guard Bones Hyland, who missed the final two games of Denver’s road trip versus the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.

While the number of absences due to health and safety protocols have dropped across the league, COVID-19 hasn’t just gone away. The Nuggets having been on the road which each other for a while, may be more susceptible to illness as the weather gets colder. Bones got sick, assistant coach Ryan Saunders got sick, and now Jokić is sick.

It’s unfortunate timing for Denver. The Nuggets are off to a solid 9-4 start on the season but still have some tough games left to go over the next week. The Knicks are on the second night of a back-to-back going from Utah to Denver, meaning the Nuggets have a major rest advantage tomorrow and should look to capitalize. Then, they travel to Dallas to face Luka Dončić and the Mavericks on Friday and Sunday. If Jokić misses all three games, the Nuggets are liable to go 0-3 in a stretch where 2-1 or even 3-0 is very much on the table.

Aaron Gordon is also questionable with a non-COVID illness, a listing that may evolve into something more serious as time goes on. The rest of the team obviously isn’t out of the woods yet, either.

Time will tell if Jokić’s absence affects the Nuggets or not, but it’s safe to say that Denver’s winning chances go down when their superstar center isn’t on the floor. Jokić has averaged 20.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game on 60.6% field goal percentage to begin the year. The Nuggets are outscoring opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions when Jokić plays and are being outscored by an absurd 16.3 points per 100 possessions when he sits.

Backup center DeAndre Jordan will likely start in Jokić’s absence.