What a season it has been for both teams. The Nuggets came into the season off a heartbreaking Game 82 loss that kept them out of the playoffs last season. This year, they pushed all the way up to the second-best record in the Western Conference despite being one of the youngest teams in the league and leading the league in games lost due to injury, missing at least one starter for over 60 games this season. The San Antonio Spurs are right in the thick of it as usual, and they did it without having any of the trio of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker or the “heir apparent” Kawhi Leonard. Despite not having the usual cast, the team has stuck to the same style of play that has kept them among the most consistently good teams in the league over the last 20 years. Here’s what to expect from each team going into the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Continue reading →
It was looking a bit dicey at the end of the third quarter in Boston, playing the Celtics, but a quick 5-0 run all by Torrey Craig in 1.1 seconds was precisely the spurt of energy that propelled the Denver Nuggets the rest of the way to clinching a nine-point win, a sweep of the season series, and most importantly: a playoff berth. The first one in six years.
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.
A huge ovation ensued from the remaining crowd at the Pepsi Center with 3:53 to go when word came over the PA saying: “Checking into the game, please welcome number eight, Jarred Vanderbilt.” This was his first action in 5-on-5 basketball since last February. 329 days ago. “I know he did not play until the end of the game and it was well in hand, but Jarred was really nervous about playing,” head coach Mike Malone explained. “He hadn’t played since last February. For him to get over that fear and to go out there and have three or four impactful minutes — I mean, that pass he made was an incredible pass — he showed you that in three minutes and 53 seconds he gets you three rebounds — he is a rebounding machine. I am happy he got those first-game jitters out of the way.” Vanderbilt finished his almost four minutes of play with one incredible assist in transition to Malik Beasley, he showed off his highly touted rebounding ability wrangling in three rebounds and the most important of all the stats, he scored his first career point, going 1-2 at the free-throw line. Vanderbilt summed it up saying “It was just amazing to get back out there and start playing again.”
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.