Michael Malone, during his post-game press conference after Tuesday night’s win against Minnesota, came right out and said, “I made the decision to shorten the rotation, only play 8 guys in the first quarter, and I’m going to continue to do that for the time being.” That rotation included the regular starters in Murray, Harris, Barton, Millsap, Jokic, and the 3 most crucial bench pieces with Morris, Beasley, and Plumlee.
It all began when Will Barton landed awkwardly on a fastbreak layup and hurt his hip and core against the Phoenix Suns on October 20. Since then, a lingering hamstring injury to Gary Harris. A broken toe as well as ankle soreness for Paul Millsap. An ankle sprain for Jamal Murray and a controversial suspension of Nikola Jokic. Every starter has missed at least one game this season. Somehow, the incredible amount of depth the Denver Nuggets have has kept them in the top of the daunting Western Conference, but as the team begins the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time to get the opening night Starting Five back on the floor.
“Everyone on your feet. No one sits until we score. Let’s make some noooiisssee!” That’s the opening you hear from PA announcer Kyle Speller just before the opening jump ball every night in the Pepsi Center or also know as “The Can,” and it was no different from Section 102 on Friday night.
A week defined by blowouts. There were 4 games on the slate for this week, all at home and the Denver Nuggets went 3-1. Key performances came from Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, and Paul Millsap brought huge lifts to the team. The MVP of the week, however, has to go to none other than Nikola Jokic. He averaged 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game. Here is your recap of each game from this week.
Since the offseason, ESPN analyst Jalen Rose has been saying that this Denver Nuggets team can be a strong contender – a dark horse, able to hold its own even with the front runner Rockets and Warriors.