Tag Archives: Nuggets Game

Denver Nuggets Battle in the Bayou

The talk was about the Denver Nuggets’ Joker and the Pels’ Zion. But a player averaging 8.7 ppg steals the show in New Orleans.

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As much as I and Santiago talked about the deadly trio in New Orleans and the dynamic duo of the Denver Nuggets. It came down to. a battle of the benches in the bayou. The Pelicans’ bench outscored the Nuggets 59-18. You always hear coaches talk about if you contain their best and get beat by their secondary options, you gotta chalk it up to it being their day. But Nuggets Coach Michael Malone was tossed after two technicals with a few minutes to go in the fourth.

Regardless of the antics on the Nuggets bench. It was quite the day for Jose Alvarado. Alvarado came into the day averaging 8.7 pts and 36% from three, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech. He had also never scored more than 29 points at any level in his life and scored 38 of those 59 pts off the New Orleans bench. Alvarado went 8-11 from three, almost all of the catch-and-shoot variety. He outscored the Nuggets bench by 20 points all by himself.

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Brandon Ingram of New Orleans didn’t play in this contest due to a toe injury. You can live with Zion Williamson putting up a slash of 25 pts/4 ast/6 reb and C.J. McCollum putting up a measly 7 pts/3 ast/6 reb. You got plenty out of Nikola Jokic with a 32 pts/9 ast/16 reb double-double. You got enough from Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, and Bruce Brown.

Unfortunately Jeff Green and Michael Porter Jr. were both still in street clothes. And Bones Hyland was only able to go for 5:00 minutes. You don’t want to make excuses, especially after this Nugget’s loss on Friday to a short-handed Hawks squad. But it is what it is.

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The silver lining, which I’m sure is hard for Denver sports fans to see after watching both active teams struggle offensively in the third quarter and their defense falter when it mattered most. This is only the second time this season Nuggets have lost back-to-back games. Speaking of the third quarter which is the Bermuda triangle for this Nuggets’ squad. The Nuggets had a five-point lead with 5:00 minutes to go in the frame. Then Nikola Jokic went to the bench and the Pelicans went on a 19-4 run.

The Nuggets only made 7 total shots in the 3rd quarter. Graphic courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

The Nuggets starters played well defensively, Jamal Murray had 2 blocks, and Joker 2 steals. Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown combined for 14 total rebounds. The depth of this Denver squad we have touted so much just has not shown up in the last two games. You saw a lot more staggering starters and bench players.

At one point four guards (Murray/Smith/Brown/KCP) were on the floor at the same time. Although I liked what I saw at times with those four on the floor, you are giving up some serious size with that lineup. And there were times when they were forced into bad iso’s because nobody was big enough to set any high screens for the pick and roll. This led to multiple turnovers and bad shots.

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The league’s 2nd best three-point team the Nuggets only went 8-31 from deep as a team. This means they made as many threes as a team as Jose Alvarado did off the Pels’ bench in three times as many attempts. Coach Malone needs his guys MPJ, Bones, and Uncle Jeff back.

He is trying to cover for the lack of offense from the bench by overusing his starters. All four starters played more than 30 mins. With Jokic, Brown, and Gordon all logging over 37 mins. It is way too early in a long season to be having starters on the floor that long, especially when one is coming off a major injury. Those are playoff minutes.

The Denver Nuggets get a chance at a rebound on Tuesday with a home date against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. They will need more than 4 players to show up if they want to avoid wearing a third straight L.

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Denver Nuggets vs Pelicans Preview

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Two of the best in the NBA clash as the Denver Nuggets host Zion and the Pelicans. Who will continue their torrid pace?

Not too many Sundays have been a blessing for Denver sports fans as the football town has dreaded the play of the Broncos the last few weeks. But the Denver faithful will have something to look forward to as the 14-8 Nuggets will take on the 14-8 Pelicans. A game that screams playoff atmosphere. Both teams are currently tied for the second seed in the prestigious western conference. Denver is coming off a frustrating 109-117 loss against Atlanta on Friday. The Pelicans are coming off an 18-point victory against the Spurs.

Both teams have had their share of injury issues, Nuggets Forward Michael Porter Jr. will sit out his sixth straight game with a heel injury. While the Pelicans will be without All-Star Brandon Ingram and second-year role player Herb Jones. As good and exciting as the Nuggets have been the Pelicans have developed their own storyline through the first 22 games of the season. Here are two things to look out for during Sunday’s afternoon match-up.

Denver Nuggets Clean House

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Dan and Santiago both called for a double-digit victory by the Denver Nuggets over the Houston Rockets. What they didn’t predict was a vintage Joker and Blue Arrow two-man performance.

March 30, 2021 that’s 607 days from Sunday’s game that pit the Denver Nuggets against the Houston Rockets. It’s the best of the west vs the worst. And we got to see Jamal Murray go for 30+ for the first time in 607 days. We also got to see something that took even longer at the same time, 618 days to be exact, since Joker and Blue Arrow both went for at least 30 pts. The NBA’s deadliest two-man game is back.

I and Santiago have been back and forth on when we would see this type of performance from the Nuggets franchise cornerstones. We were both wrong, but Nikola Jokic, as always, was spot on. Back in the pre-season Joker was asked when we would see the old Jamal. He said pretty plainly “I love to play with him, of course. I know he’s gonna be really bad for the next 20 games, but we’re gonna survive,” Jokic said, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

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Some tried to take it as a jab, but even Murray knew he was only being honest. After that much time away from competition you have the proverbial “rust” to knock off. Well, Sunday night showed exactly what this well oiled ore-cart could do at a mile high. Once Jokic and Murray got started down the tracks, nothing could derail them other than rest at designated stops. I said I wanted a game where the starters didn’t play in the fourth, we got exactly that. All 63 points, 14 rebs, and 13 assists by the dynamic duo came in the first three-quarters.

That left Young Justice (Ish Smith and Zeke Nnaji) coming off the bench in the fourth and closing out a double digit victory with a little flash from the backup duo themselves dishing out 25 pts/8 asts/8 rebs/2 stls/1 blk combined. Ish has been impressive in his two games back from the calf-strain that sidelined him. Blocking shots, playing sticky defense, as well as some slick passing as the backup PG in Bones Hylands absence due to a non-Covid illness. Davon Reed was another bright spot going 3-6 from deep and playing top-notch defense in 25+ mins. on the court.

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We keep talking about it, but it’s a worthy item of discussion, and that is the depth of this team. As Santiago stated, it wouldn’t be a Denver Nuggets game if there wasn’t a few names on the injury report. That was the case yet again with this one that saw Michael Porter Jr. and Jeff Green in street clothes. That has not, and seemingly will not be an excuse for this team. It’s next man up, and nobody flinches.

So down key players again, this squad responded with an oldie but a goodie that included a dominate third-quarter. This has been a bugaboo of this Denver Nuggets squad that has gotten entire segments on talk shows about it. And that is how bad this Denver Nuggets team has tended to be in the 3rd quarter of games. Houston was able to keep up in the first quarter with the Nuggets only amassing a 3-point lead 42-39. Then Houston won the 2nd quarter 29-28 despite Murray putting up over a third of his point total in the frame. I’m sure most in Denver felt a “hear-we-go-again” mentality creeping in during the halftime show.

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Then Joker exited the locker room, and he could. not. miss. Almost literally (he missed one free-throw), Jokic went 7-7 in the third including two 3-pointers for 17 of his 32 points on the night. This lead Denver to a 106-91 going into the 4th and Joker and Murray getting the rest of the night off. This was well earned and should leave them well rested for game two of this mini homestand versus the Rockets on Wednesday night.

What’s Next?

vs Houston Rockets Nov. 30 @ 7:00 PM MST/9:00 PM EST

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Denver Nuggets Continue Road Dominance

The Denver Nuggets have quietly moved into 2nd place in the West, just a game back of Phoenix. Being 8-5 on the road after beating the Clippers in L.A. is a big reason why.

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I’m sure many will want to put an asterisk next to the Denver Nuggets win Friday night in L.A. After all both of the Clippers biggest stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were both in street clothes. The reason I reject that caveat is this Nuggets squad has had an infuriating habit of playing up, or down, to their opponents level. Friday night, despite missing one of their stars (Michael Porter Jr.) and best bench player (Bones Hyland) was a buck in that trend.

In the last two weeks we have watched this Nuggets team lose their first home game against a below average Knicks squad. Then lose 4 of 5 starters due to COVID and other illnesses in Dallas yet pull out an improbable victory over an almost fully healthy Mavericks team on the road. Then give Detroit their first road win despite all those stars returning. Only to bounce back with consecutive wins on the road against the Thunder and Clippers. So I don’t care who was or wasn’t on the court for Los Angeles, the Nuggets needed this win to improve to 12-7, first in the Northwest Division, and second in the Western Conference. They are only .5 games back of the 12-6 Phoenix Suns.

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There were no triple-doubles, even though Nikola Jokic had a 19 pt/10 reb double-double, the burden was spread around the Nuggets stars on the court. I just told you about Joker, Jamal Murray had 21 pts/9 asts/6 rebs, and Aaron Gordon lead all scorers while staffing every stat column with 29 pts/7 rebs/3 asts/2 stls/2 blks. Air Gordon was his best self against L.A. and it helped the Denver Nuggets to absolutely dominate beyond the final score of 114-104 would lead you to believe.

Even despite a typical poor 3rd and average 4th quarter that actually led L.A. to outscore Denver by two points in the second-half. You never really felt the ending was in question. John Wall lead all Clippers in scoring with 23 off the bench. No L.A. starter scored more than 16 with three not even cracking double digits. Only Marcus Morris and Terance Mann accomplished that for the Clippers.

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As you seen above, Nuggets were one Joker free throw made from three starters cracking 20. That starting five included Bruce Brown with MPJ out. That means the nuggets are now 6-2 with Brown in the starting lineup. I love Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and what he brings but I still believe the Denver Nuggets best-5 includes Bruce not KCP. Pope has been lights out from three still shooting an absurd 49.4% from deep. But Bruce is no slouch at 38.7%, where the biggest difference comes is in the paint, both offensively and defensively. With Bruce starting the Nuggets average more than 60 points in the paint per game. That drops to less than 50 with him coming off the bench. There is also an almost 20 point swing in how many points opponents score in the paint against the Nuggets starters with/without Bruce.

I don’t think it’s disrespectful to say KCP is best served off the bench, salary is secondary to winning. Bruce brings a hustle and controlled chaos to this squad no one else can match. I have a fever, and the only prescription is more Downtown Bruce Brown. He’s not just a hustler, he’s a closer with a killer instinct the Nuggets have lacked outside of peak Blue Arrow since they started this journey during a Taco Bell commercial. He leads all Nuggets in 4th quarter minutes with 128, number 2 is Joker at 107. Some may say I’m crazy if they just look at the boxscore and see his slash of 8 pts/4 asts/4 rebs/1 stl. But you can’t just watch the highlights and be able to appreciate what this man brings to the team.

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This team was dealt a tremendous blow when multiple viruses wrecked the locker room heading to Dallas. But the way they have responded as they slowly get healthy and still have Murray and Porter on pitch-counts after both missed all of 2021-2022. The way Bruce has been able to cover every hole that has ruptured in the Nuggets flagship so far this season has earned him a bigger role even when they are bak to full strength. Coach Malone said it best per Mike Singer of The Denver Post “Some guys are in the foxhole with you, some guys, like they’ve got one foot in, one foot out,” Malone said after the game. “Bruce is, he’s all the way in.”

You may ask, “Who takes his place off the bench? The natural answer might be, well who he replaces, KCP. But I posit that being a much bigger human in Vlatko Cancar. He does all you get from Bruce but with a less consistent shot. I believe Vlatko can iron out that shot if just given time on the hardwood. Here’s to hoping the Denver Nuggets are “all the way in” with Bruce as they head back home for their first home back-to-back of the season against the last-place Houston Rockets. And to them finally being over that roller-coaster of matching the opponents level and playing to their potential on a consistent basis.

What’s Next?

vs Houston Rockets at 7:00 PM MST/9:00 PM EST on November 28 & 30.

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Denver Nuggets Give Detroit First Road Win

The Denver Nuggets came in with the best home record against a Pistons team that had yet to win on the road. After a seesaw affair, Detroit squeaked out a 110-108 win.

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After one of the more improbable wins in recent memory in Dallas on Sunday night. The Denver Nuggets followed that up with a dud at home against the 3-win Detroit Pistons. It seemed like an endless uphill battle all night, every time the Nuggets pulled it close with an impressive run, Detroit always had an answer. All this after the three starters missing in Dallas (Jokic/Murray/Gordon) all returned to the lineup for the Association’s fewest 6th home game of the 2022 season.

This tweet by James L. Edwards III of The Athletic sums up just how unlikely this Denver Nuggets loss was:

We have talked a lot about the Nuggets rebounding woes, Nuggets are still undefeated when they out-rebound the other team. They are under .500 when they don’t. Even Coach Michael Malone said it after the game in his presser “They out-worked us on the glass, to me that’s the story of the game”. Rebounding has zero to do with talent, it’s 100% about hustle. To punch his point home Coach Malone advised that Detroit had 12 offensive rebounds for 17 pts. The sloppiness on the offensive end wasn’t helpful as the Nuggets committed 18 turnovers for 26 Piston points.

The Nuggets did get some offensive production as six players left Ball Arena in double digits. Led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic who fell one rebound short of a triple-double with a 31 pt/10 asts/9 reb slash. But the defense that held Luka Doncic and Co. to just 97 in Dallas, was non-existent for too many stretches Tuesday evening. The Pistons were even missing their most dangerous scorer in Cade Cunningham yet still managed to shoot over 50% from the field for only the second time all season.

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There were nine lead changes in this game, while lead changes are not abnormal in basketball, this is a lot in a game where the trailing team was 12-point home favorites against a team winless on the road. This is made possible when your depth disappoints. Many will point to Bones Hyland not playing in the second half (non-Covid illness) as why Detroit’s bench outscored the Denver Nuggets bench 53-22. In comparison to the Nuggets’ six players in double digits, Detroit only had 4. Where it gets to Detroit getting so much from the bench as opposed to the Nuggets. Detroit had 10 players make at least two buckets, the Nuggets only had seven. The depth that impressed in Dallas dried up in Denver.

This is not a five-alarm fire, it’s not even a candle glow. This is the first half of a back-to-back that has Denver flying from DIA to Oklahoma City after the game for a 6:00 pm tip-off. You hate to call this a trap game as you assume all three starters that returned gave it their all and the focus was there to almost erase a 15-point deficit with less than six minutes remaining to almost force OT on a last-second desperation shot that came up just short by Aaron Gordon off an intentional free-throw miss by Jamal Murray with 3.4 seconds left.

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Speaking of missed free throws, missing nine continues a troubling trend for the Nuggets. The Denver Nuggets are 24th in the NBA in free-throw percentage at a paltry 75.5%. Here’s a quick reminder they only lost by two points. Free throws are named thus for a very obvious reason. How a team can shoot 40.9% (1st) from three and 49.2% (2nd) from the field and be so bad from the charity stripe is staggeringly mind-bending. I have a feeling Coach Malone is going to emphasize both free-throw shooting and hustle on the boards over the next several practices. This is a team full of vets that haven’t let a bad outing snowball into bad outings. Just look at the responses from losses to the Utah Jazz and L.A. Lakers as examples of how this team tends to bounce back. Here’s to believing that trend is the one that continues against the Thunder.

What’s Next:

@Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 6:00 PM MST/8:00 PM EST

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Denver Nuggets Defense Falters Against Celtics

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Denver Nuggets start the road swing strong at 3-0, then run off a cliff in New England. After a thrilling 122-119 comeback win against Indiana on Wednesday, the Nuggets get out-rebounded and out-hustled defensively by Boston losing 131-112.

The last time we spoke here the Denver Nuggets were pwned by Portland. But, if you listen to me and Santiago on the Nug Life Podcast and followed my picks you should be sitting pretty this week. I advised that the Nuggets would start 3-0 and then run out of steam on the due east swing by the time they reached Boston. I of course was hoping to be wrong, but a 3-1 start and no worse than a 4-2 week long road trip is nothing to snuff at. These are humans, after all, their energy is finite, especially with no comforts of home.

Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics set the tone early hitting his first 10 shots before finally bricking a lay-up. For all the credit you want to give Boston for playing a solid game, you can’t help but blame lackluster effort on the glass by the Denver Nuggets within the same breath. Nothing gives this sentiment life like the video below:

Denver Nuggets vs Boston Celtics Highlight

That is not NBA basketball, that is Rec-League at best. The Nuggets got away with some bad quarters against inferior rosters of San Antonio and Indiana. You can’t have those extended lapses against teams like Boston and expect to win. Compounding the issue for the Nuggets was the fact they started so poorly falling to a 33-25 deficit by the end of the first. The Celtics started the game with a 61.9% chance of winning, which was the lowest that probability ever fell. The Nuggets allowed Brown and Co. to deliver no less than 31 points in every quarter.

The Celtics had three players exceed 20 points in the aforementioned Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. Grant Williams’ 13 made it 4-out-of-5 Boston starters with double-digit points. Former CU Buff Derrick White and Payton Pritchard had 10 and 11 off the bench respectively. The Nuggets’ offense from the early portion of the road trip was only seen in spurts, not nearly good enough against the defending Eastern Conference Champions.

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For those that have been calling to see more Joker, you may have to argue we have seen too much over the last two contests. He has played almost the entire second half of both with four fouls. Jokic still managed to be the leading scorer in both games. He had 24 against the Pacers and 29 on Friday night. Unlike in Indiana where Nikola Jokic had five teammates join him with at least 15 points and a double-double by Aaron Gordon. On Friday night in Boston, he only had 3. Though Jamal Murray (14 pts/10 assists) and Bruce Brown (16 pts/10 rebs.) added double-doubles. The most telling stat though is 46-38, that’s how the Nuggets were out-rebounded by Boston. The Celtics never quit and the Nuggets never started.

It is only game 12 of 82, you can’t reasonably expect the energy level to be consistent over that many minutes on the floor. But the number one telling stat of the early season for Denver has been rebounding. When the Nuggets win the battle on the glass they are 7-0, they are 1-4 when they don’t. Although that seems pretty cut and dry, there is some nuance here to consider but is a storyline worth watching. We will see if a day off Saturday can re-energize this Denver Nuggets squad for another tough test in Chi-To

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What’s Next:

@ Chicago Bulls, Sunday, November 13 at 6:00 PM MST/8:00 PM EST

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Denver Nuggets Lose More Than Game in Salt Lake City

The Denver Nuggets had just gotten manhandled by the Cleveland Cavaliers at home. You knew this team wouldn’t lie down and roll over. Through 3.5 quarters they didn’t. Even after losing their MVP.

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The Denver Nuggets had it stacked against them in Utah. No Jamal Murray, 2nd leg of a back-to-back, Utah coming off 4 days rest, and losing Nikola Jokic to a knee contusion less than halfway through the contest. Aaron Gordon going for 16 in the first half, and Will Barton dropping 16 of his 21 in the 3rd kept this Nuggets squad in it until the end. This game was 96-95 at 9:08 left in the 4th. Thankfully it seems Joker avoided serious injury.

This is where things went left for the Denver Nuggets. After the 9:08 mark in the 4th, Utah went on a 26-15 run to close the game and secure a 122-110 division win. When you look at the box score you get an idea of just how good this Nuggets squad was at scoring, all 5 starters in double digits, all but one with at least 19 points, 3 with at least 20. Problems came on the defensive end where Aaron Gordon drew 5 fouls, MPJ drew 3, and they gave up more than 100 points for the first time.

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Obviously, Gordon’s foul trouble curbed his defensive efficiency late, 4 of the 5 came in the second half. But the effort on the defensive end fell off a cliff once Joker was helped off the court after banging knees with Rudy Gobert. The Jazz had 7 players in double digits, 3 off the bench. Tim Conley hit from deep and facilitated at ease dropping 15 pts/5 asts/1 stl/1 blk. Jordan Clarkson had 19 off the bench showing why he was the NBA 6th-Man-of-the-Year in 2020/2021. And Rudy Gobert got his 3rd double/double in as many games with 23 pts/16 rebs and added a block for good measure.

The Denver Nuggets actually outshot Utah from three with a 35% to 31% edge, but Utah jacked up 11 more of them with 39 to Denver’s 28. They also made 12 to Denver’s 10, unlike Denver who had multiple possessions where they turned the ball over because they made one too many passes while they fought over who would actually take the shot. Utah was just pulling up and letting it fly, no matter how inefficient they may have been.

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You also saw the difference at the offensive boards, when the Nuggets took a shot, all but maybe 1 player would bail to the other end, no one would crash. When Utah was on offense, you would see 3-4 crashing the boards almost every time. Defense in the NBA is about effort more than anything, Utah had it, just like Cleveland did, and Denver didn’t, at least not for 4 full quarters. There were flashes in the first 3 quarters, the Nuggets kept it close throughout that time.

Though I do not condone the way Bol Bol has gone about expressing his frustration with his lack of floor time at points. I also don’t think he’s done anything that bad. If you were that talented watching your team lose back-to-back games, you would be frustrated too. I get why he is so upset, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside bullied the Nuggets in the paint once Jokic hit the bench for good and JaMychal Green was ejected with Hassan Whiteside for shoving each other. The Nuggets sorely needed size and paint D, why not give the kid some minutes?

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It seems there is some internal strife brewing between Bol and this coaching staff, but feelings should not interfere with winning basketball games. Especially against a division rival, you will most likely be fighting for seeding with by the end of the season. These games are early, but they still count. It seemed by the fourth quarter Coach Malone conceded their fate and just let the starters burnout down the stretch. All starters except Jokic, due to injury, had at least 34 minutes on the floor.

Even if the coaching staff was sending a message to Bol, what about Zeke Nnaji, or some scoring in the form of Bones Hyland? It was strange to see this team get bullied after losing two bigs and Malone do nothing to replace them with options on his bench that were healthy, young, and hungry. These are the situations evaluators dream of. And the Nuggets missed the boat.

I have no doubt we have a different outcome with Joker on the floor for the whole game, but that wasn’t in the cards. You have to play the ones you were dealt, this time, the Nuggets came up short in the Utah Rockies.

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Up Next:

vs Dallas Mavericks Friday, October 29 @ 8:00 PM MST

Where to Watch:

National: ESPN

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Denver Nuggets Look to Bounce Back Against Division Rival

The Denver Nuggets are coming off a bad loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Play first back to back versus well rested Utah Jazz.

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The Denver Nuggets could have used four days off to get things right after a 99-87 loss to the Cavaliers at home. Instead, they get to fly on a red-eye and face a Utah squad that has just been hanging out since Friday. The Nuggets turnover woes came to ahead in their matchup with a team that just took Evan Mobley 3rd-overall in this past year’s draft.

They now take on heated rival Utah Jazz on the road in a stretch that has the Nuggets playing 4-games in 5 days. But this is the pros, no crying over the scheduling. You just play the games they put on the calendar. This will be an early test of this Nuggets team’s resiliency. Will they rebound and play with the same energy that led to a 2-0 start? Or will they continue to sulk and look lethargic like the way that got Michael Porter Jr. called out by Coach Malone in his post-game presser? I believe in the former.

Here is a Denver Nuggets/Utah Jazz team comparison courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

Both teams come in down their star PG, we all know about Jamal Murray, but Mike Conley is also on the IL with a sore achilles. After three straight games where the Nuggets kept their opponent below 100 points, this may be the one that passes the century mark. Utah can match Denver’s defensive game with their own lead by the Stifle Tower Rudy Gobert. They also play the boards well with the 4th highest rebounds per game at 52. The Nuggets are bottom-10 at 43.5.

Another stat that jumps out is the nuggets Free-Throw%, sitting 30th at 58.8 despite having the best Field-Goal% at 52.1. That is one of the weirdest stats I’ve seen in a while. Neither team’s offense is blowing the doors off anybody. They are pretty much neck and neck as you see above in PPG.

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I see this as being another defensive game where the Nuggets will need to dig deep to come out with a victory. The well-rested Utah Jazz will have to avoid a letdown after a long lay-off. Could be as sloppy as precise on either end. I think the extra jolt you get from playing a division rival will help both squads step up to the national stage of a TNT broadcast.

Key Stats:

30%

The bare minimum a team can shoot from behind the arc and win consistently. The Denver Nuggets shot just 23.7% from three and too many players looked scared to take the big shot. As good as Joker is, he can’t do this alone.

30

It’s looking more and more like Nikola Jokic needs to have this as his average PPG for this offense to reach its full potential sans Jamal Murray.

Key Players:

Michael Porter Jr.: You are going to hear this name a lot in this section. That happens when you sign a max extension in the offseason and average 11.5 points in the first 3 games. This must change.

Bones Hyland: The rookie got to dip his toes in the waters against Cleveland. He made waves leading the bench with 7 points in just 10 mins. He even got a brief look with the starters. Can his stock ascend even more? Coach Malone had high praise after the game.

Aaron Gordon: He has been the most consistent player outside of Nikola. This needs to continue as others around him step up their game.

Final Prediction:

Denver 107 – Utah 105

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Denver Nuggets Waste Vintage Joker Performance

The Denver Nuggets came into this game as one of seven undefeated’s. The Cavaliers riding a big win over Atlanta looked to change that.

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The Denver Nuggets were 2-0 on the strength of their defense holding the Suns and Spurs to under 100 points as has been talked about ad nauseam. They however were plagued by turnovers in both games and three-point efficiency in game 2. Both would rear their ugly heads against the Cavaliers early.

The Nuggets began the night 4-21 from three, with two of the four coming in the last 60 seconds of the first half. The Nuggets were actually down 10 points with 40 seconds left in the half. Then Joker drained his first three of the game and then after a quick turnover by the Cavs drew a 3-point foul with 3 seconds left. Which gave the 4-point first-half deficit 50-46.

These are the first and second quarter shot charts for both teams. Cleveland in red and Denver Nuggets in blue. Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

The Nuggets were extremely lucky that the deficit was that small. If the Cavs could have hit their own buckets that is. They started 3-11 from deep and only 19-39 from inside the arch. There was also early foul trouble from the Nuggets that necessitated the early departure of Michael Porter Jr. who had 2 less than halfway through the first quarter. His replacement P.J. Dozier didn’t fare any better as he ended up with 2 of his own before the quarter was over.

This led to something all of Nuggets Nation has been waiting for since the pre-season. Bones Hyland got his first taste of NBA action and boy did he shine. In just over 7 minutes of play in the first half, he put up 5 points on 3-5 shooting, a steal, rebound, and just created utter chaos on the defensive end in concert with fan-favorite Facundo Campazzo. This kid is another in a long list of 2021 Rookies that have started the year strong.

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The MVP Nikola Jokic helped this team stay in it with a 15 point/12 rebound double-double in the first half. But no other Nugget had more than 5 points or 4 rebounds. Half-time adjustments being needed would be a serious understatement.

Though you wouldn’t know half-time adjustments existed with how the Nuggets started the third quarter. They allowed the Cavaliers to build as large as an 11-point lead before the 7-minute mark in the 3rd. This was done on poor shooting by the Nuggets, and absolutely abysmal effort on the defensive end. Too many times the Nuggets defenders were caught watching the play, instead of actually playing their man.

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You thought some energy was injected into the team when MPJ made catch-and-shoot 3 at the 6:30 mark of the quarter. Then you saw Joker pick up the pace running the floor after rebounds. He would have had a triple-double by the end of the 3rd had his teammates just hit the wide-open shots he created. They ended up drawing to within one of Cleveland 66-65. Mostly due to poor shooting by Cleveland on their own end. Denver ended the quarter 7-31 from distance, Cleveland was 6-21.

The Nuggets would tie the game at 70, but that was just when the Cavs found their stroke and Denver went cold. Cleveland would promptly go on a 23-7 run. Denver would show flashes here and there of what made them 2-0. They held 3rd overall pick to just 10-points and 8 rebounds. The slack was more than picked up by Jarrett Allen 21 pts/16 rebs and Kevin Love with 22/6. The Cavs had 5 players in double digits total, as opposed to Denver’s 4. But Love almost outscored Denver’s bench by himself (22-24).

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The Nuggets didn’t do much of anything right in this one. Outside of finally getting to see Bones get minutes, there was nothing fun about this game for Nuggets Nation. They lost the Turnover battle 22-14, shot 23% from three, 22 personal fouls, it was just bleh. You can easily say this was. a “trap” game. But I warned about this in our preview. The Nuggets players outside of Nikola Jokic obviously weren’t listening. They held their third opponent to less than 100, but still lost 99-87.

The Denver Nuggets now get to hustle to DIA and jump on a jet to Salt Lake City to face a Jazz squad that hasn’t played in 4 days tomorrow.

Up Next:

@ Utah Jazz Tuesday October 26 @ 8:00 PM MST

Where to watch:

National Broadcast: TNT

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Denver Nuggets Face Cavs at Home

The Denver Nuggets have started 2-0. Look to continue dominance against Cleveland Cavaliers at home.

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The Denver Nuggets have held their first two opponents to less than 100 points as we mentioned in our review. They look to make it three in a row when they face Cleveland on Monday in Ball Arena. This will also be the first game in the first back-to-back of the season for the Nuggets as they have to jump on a red-eye for Utah after the game.

Despite their 1-2 record and history of ineptitude whenever King James is not on his throne. There are many reasons not to take this team lightly. Not the least of which is their 9th ranked scoring at 117 per game. As opposed to the Nuggets 24th ranked offense at 106.

Here is a breakdown of the Denver Nuggets vs Cavs matchup courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

Denver Nuggets vs Cleveland Cavaliers matchup breakdown.

That top-5 field goal percentage and Assist/Turnover ratio jump off the page as well as them sitting atop the league at 32 Assists Per Game. It’s crazy to think after facing the Suns and Spurs to start the season, the Cavs might be the most complete offense the Nuggets have faced. Their 101-95 win over 2020/2021 Playoff darlings Atlanta Hawks on Saturday should stand as a warning to this Nuggets squad. This is an even better squad than the one that came into Ball Arena less than a year ago and left with an 8-point win. Even with the Darius Garland injury, Clevelands 5th leading scorer, the Nuggets can’t breathe a sigh of relief. The Cavs have 7 players averaging double-digits.

Despite tying for the league lead in road victories a year ago. The Denver Nuggets have a chance to show why Mile High Basketball is a cut above the rest and put the league on notice that coming to Denver is a problem.

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Key Stats:

40%

The Cavs have yet to shoot less than 40% from the field. The Hawks came the closest at 41.2%, if this new Denver D can get them close to this number, it should be a blowout.

20

Michael Porter Jr. has yet to break this point barrier through 2 games. The scoring possible in this game will necessitate him picking up the slack the way he did after Murray was injured last year for this team to win consistently.

Key Players:

Facundo Campazzo: Can the pest continue to distress the opposing PG’s and cause headaches all over the court?

Michael Porter Jr.: Can he find the form that had people believing the loss of Murray wouldn’t derail the season?

JaMychal Green: The vet’s 3-point shot will be crucial to the bench scoring. If he gets hot early, lookout!

Final Prediction:

Denver 113 – Cleveland 96

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