The Denver Nuggets are heating up and catching fire at the right time

Apr 9, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky performs in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky performs in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Nuggets are getting hot at the right time in this season, the problem is, they aren’t the only ones. The Nuggets are at a point in the season where teams like to be clicking on all cylinders, and they definitely seem to be.

The Denver Nuggets hot stretch

The Nuggets were playing pretty well into the trade deadline but since acquiring Aaron Gordon, The Nuggets have reeled off 7 straight wins and are on an 8 game win streak overall. The trade has added a bit of a jolt to the players and organization. The players realize that it’s go-time and it’s a beautiful thing when the players, the fans, the staff, and the organization are on the same page with a clear goal of a championship in mind.

This has translated to the play on the court, there is an added sense of urgency to play well and win games. Will Barton stated that the trade “made everyone in the locker room realize we’re really going for it” via Harrison Wind of the DNVR Nuggets.

First things first, Nikola Jokic is the most valuable player. He continues to play at an insane level while being the engine to this Nuggets team. I mean, he stays at the top of the charts according to @NBA_Math on Twitter. He makes everything function and run together. During this streak, he is averaging a near triple-double with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists.

His scoring has gone down a little bit from his season average since the addition of Aaron Gordon but his assists have gone up which goes to show how well Aaron Gordon is fitting in with the team, and especially with Nikola Jokic. Check out this thread by Joel Rush of Forbes Sports explaining and showing off the Joker Gordon connection.

The Nuggets have also welcomed the addition of JaVale Mcgee, his presence has been felt so far with the energy he brings off the bench. Malone seems to be rotating Mcgee with Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green. It will be interesting to see which combination will get more minutes as we head into the playoffs, but Mcgee has been super helpful to the team as someone that brings “vertical spacing” and plays above the rim on both offense and defense.

The Nuggets have missed Jamal Murray because he’s been hitting his stride and playing at the high-level people had hoped for. Other players have filled in nicely the past 3 games as Jamal continues to work his right knee back to strength along with some well-deserved rest. Players such as Monte Morris, P.J. Dozier, and Facu Campazzo have stepped up and elevated their games in Jamal’s absence.

Monte Morris is steady and reliable, that’s been his reputation since he became a Denver Nugget and they are glad to have him back from his recent injury. He’s been relied on to step in and start multiple games in his career and also to be the leader that controls the second unit, he could probably start for many teams around the league.

Monte takes good care of the ball and has a knack for making the right play. Whatever role he is playing for this Nuggets team, he will be crucial down the stretch and into the playoffs.

The Nuggets have Jokic playing incredibly, or maybe it’s ‘Jokic has the Nuggets playing incredibly,’ either way, Aaron Gordon is seamlessly fitting in, and other players are stepping up in the absence of Jamal Murray. But perhaps the most impactful thing this season and during this hot stretch has been Michael Porter Jr. coming into his own. MPJ’s growth has been exactly what the Nuggets needed. If a championship was goal 1A heading into the season, then the integration and growth of MPJ might have been goal 1B because the first thing will not happen without the other.

Everyone could see the talent MPJ possesses and one of the underlying goals this season had to be getting this guy acclimated and fitting into a team that relied heavily on Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Even if the Nuggets fall short of a championship this year, they can still feel ecstatic about accomplishing one huge goal with this team and Michael Porter Jr.

The rise of MPJ just widens the Nuggets championship window even more. Watching the bubble playoffs you could see it took everything Murray and Jokic had individually and as a duo. Though they’ve even taken it up a notch and elevated their game into this season, the arrival of a young serious third threat will make the Nuggets tough to compete with for years to come.  It is especially nice to see that he has gained more and more trust with his teammates and his coach.

Michael Porter is growing up right in front of our eyes and has been on an absolute tear ever since his mini slump mid-season. He’s putting up some insane numbers in his recent stretch and showing that he cares about both ends of the floor, which is big for the team and bodes well for him earning the trust of head coach Michael Malone.

While the Nuggets are enjoying their success right now, they aren’t the only ones. The Western Conference is crazy right now with multiple teams on fire. The top 4 seeds are all shaping into their final form, Denver has won 9 out of their last 10 but the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and L.A. Clippers have won 8 out of their last 10 and all place ahead of the Nuggets.

The Nuggets have jumped the Los Angeles Lakers to 4th in the West while the Lakers deal with injuries to their star players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Come playoff time, any one of these top Western teams could get bounced early as the Portland Trailblazers and the Dallas Mavericks are no joke either when fully healthy.

It isn’t crazy to say that any of the teams from seeds 1 through 7 as it stands now, could beat each other in any given playoff series. The Nuggets will likely not want to find themselves down 3-1 in a playoff series again at any point.

The Nuggets will have to continue playing out of their minds and winning games if they want to continue to climb the ladder because the Jazz, Suns, and Clippers aren’t going to suddenly forget how to play basketball and fall off any time soon.

If the playoffs started today, the Nuggets would match up with the Lakers, and as confident as we all may be, that is a tough matchup for any team to face off against. A dominant point forward along with a dominant power forward while both being some of the best athletes in the game is tough no matter what.

Either way, this Nuggets team is also a tough outing for anyone and presents a few mismatches of their own. With a “core 4” that includes Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr, and Aaron Gordon, then a mix of solid role players, The Denver Nuggets are sure to find some mismatches in their favor. We will see what kind of combinations coach Malone can come up with as the Nuggets seek to make some noise yet again come playoff time.

Next. The Fantastic Four: Denver Nuggets Edition. dark