Aaron Gordon Brings New Life to Denver! Nuggets vs Hawks Recap

Mar 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) before the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) before the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Aaron Gordon seems to have changed life in Denver. He has brought a spark to the entire Denver Nuggets organization. The entire team seemed to run the fast break harder with Gordon replacing Paul Millsap in the starting lineup. The three-man game of Aaron Gordon, Jamal Murray, and Nikola Jokic is something that championship teams are made of. It seems like they have so much chemistry together already, they were great at playing off each other and making the right reads against this weak Atlanta Hawks defense.

The number of backdoor cuts in Mike Malone’s offense is something to keep your eye on, Jokic can make every pass on the floor to his athletic forwards. Michael Porter Junior and Gordon were both able to get open looks at the rim by slipping screens on Murray while Jokic works out of the post. Malone’s offense is going to begin creating some big-time highlights. The entire team is in sync and comfortable with playing with pace and allowing Jokic to throw long outlet passes to jump-start the fast break and their offense.

Gordon’s first bucket was after he worked to get the switch onto Bogdan Bogdanovic, and he was able to take him off the dribble and get a midrange shot up. His second bucket came shortly after with a wide-open dunk on a backdoor cut. Porter continued his hot streak scoring the first 5 points of the game. However, Will Barton was the main focal point for the Nuggets in the first quarter, scoring 12 quick points to start the game. The Nuggets seemed to be moving differently during the first quarter and the Hawks were able to shoot with them and keep it interesting.

Jamychal Green came off the bench ready to provide a quick spark and it honestly kept the Nuggets in the quarter because of the Hawks hot shooting. Green had 10 quick points in 5 minutes on 4 of 6 shooting. The Hawks and their fast-paced offense got off to a hot start in the first half, but the new-look Nuggets offense was a bit too much to handle.  After Clint Capela, there is not enough rim protection to keep Murray, Porter, Gordon, and Jokic out of the paint. The Nuggets ended the quarter on a 20-6 run and took a ten-point lead into halftime.

Trae Young woke up in the third quarter hitting a few deep threes and found Capela for some easy looks. On the other end, Jokic and Murray seemed to always put them in the blender in the pick and roll. The Nuggets got a balanced scoring attack going in the third, getting production from Murray and Jokic and even Paul Millsap came in off the bench and gave them some strong minutes. The ability for Denver to bring Millsap in off the bench will end up being a difference-maker for them in the playoffs.

Aaron Gordon had a very impressive first game as a Nugget, his defense against John Collins tonight really stood out. He is such a creative finisher, his ability to hang in the air allows him to be that much more creative in the air.  His basketball IQ was also very impressive, he came into this game with minimal practice and seemed like he had been operating in this system for years.

Gordon looks comfortable and aware of when to cut and pop out which kept the Hawks defense on its toes. That, paired with Jokic and Murray’s passing ability allows their entire offense to be deadly.

Defenses need to be near perfect to compete with this team. They can throw a lineup of five dynamic playmakers and ball handlers on the floor, all of whom are able to beat defenders off the dribble, score beyond the arc and finish strongly at the rim. This is the ideal reiteration of the Houston Rockets’ pace and space offense they tried to run with Harden and their small-ball lineups except with bigger athletes. It could end up being better with Porter and Gordon’s size at the forward spots and Jokic being able to give you real center minutes.  Check out the full highlights here.

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