The Denver Nuggets had their last season ended by the Phoenix Suns. On opening night, they got started on the right foot with a 110-98 victory.Embed from Getty Images
The Denver Nuggets have had opening night circled on their calendars since the schedule was released. After their unceremonious exit handed to them by this very Phoenix Suns squad with a dominant sweep at their hands. Good on the NBA schedule makers for not making basketball fans wait for this matchup. It was everything it was hyped to be. With hardnosed, borderline old school physical play throughout, and the momentum swings that make an instant classic.
Outside of the few minutes the Nuggets led in the first half, their win probability was negative until the 3-minute mark in the 3rd quarter. The Denver defense would clamp down with Aaron Gordon playing out of his mind in the 2nd half running the floor and swatting balls in every direction. The Suns’ stars were essentially non-existent in that second half. Phoenix’s leading scorer was Mikal Bridges with 16 points. Not a single Suns starter had a positive plus/minus.
The Nuggets on the other hand dominated with their starters. Every single one had at least a +18, and were lead in scoring by MVP Nikola Jokic’s 27. And all but Monte Morris (9 pts) were in double-digits. If there was any worries about this squad it’s the Bench being a bit anemic despite P.J. Dozier dropping 10 and new addition Jeff Green had 13. No other bench player for the Nuggets had more than 2 points.
As far as the key stats from our preview. Nikola fell just short of 30 with 27 points. And the Nuggets shot over 45% from the field. The biggest surprise in this game was the 20 points dropped by Will Barton as the 2nd leading Nugget scorer while going 4-8 from 3. Many times on the broadcast the announcers consternated about who would take up the big shot in the absence of Murray. At least for one night, Will the Thrill did his part and then some.
This was a wonderful game to watch for Nuggets Nation, but it is only game 1. They have another tough test in their home opener with the San Antonio Spurs who seem to play this team tough whether they are good or not. And they are never a slouch. So here’s to hoping the bench picks up the scoring pace, I believe an infusion of Hyland could elevate that unit. He saw 0 minutes on the floor in the opener after leading the team in scoring in the preseason. The way this Nuggets organization protects its young guns can be infuriating, but I trust they know what they are doing.
vs San Antonio Spurs Friday, October 22 @ 7:00 PM
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