This Denver Nuggets team is truly special when they get clicking offensively. The number of extra passes that seem to happen every time down the floor ensures that they almost always get the best shot possible. They are becoming so unselfish as a collective unit on the offensive side of the floor and it has transitioned into their defensive effort as well. As a team, they seem to be hustling harder and having cleaner rotations which really messes with their opponent’s ability to get comfortable.
Denver Win Streak is Snapped!
This loss came down to the fact that they just did not have their second most dynamic offensive weapon and it finally caught up with them. While Facundo Campazzo had an efficient game, he just does not provide the same shot making ability and creation off the dribble that Jamal Murray does. It seemed like it finally caught up to everyone down to the bench players that Murray was out. Everyone has been asked to do a bit more offensively to make up for his production and this game it seemed like they got burnt out.
The Nuggets have multiple lineups where they can overwhelm you with length, scoring and creation. Perhaps their best combination of length will be Jamal Murray at the lead guard position, MPJ at the two, Aaron Gordon at the three, Paul Millsap or JaMychal Green at the power forward spot and of course Jokic at center.
Imagine a world where the Nuggets are throwing out four players above 6’9 with two near 7 footers, one at a guard spot! P.J. Dozier would also fill nicely as a long-player that can guard the 1 through 3 positions and handle the rock. This team might be the only one with a real shot to match up the Brooklyn Nets as they have enough wings and forwards to withstand the attack of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldrige.
Nikola Jokic B+
For this game, Nikola Jokic deserves a B+, only because he let the Celtics’ physicality and an unfavorable whistle bother him. Robert Williams is an undersized center who plays hard on both ends of the floor, its possible his foot speed and consistent motion on the court wore him out. The Joker would likely have been more efficient with more touches from the block because he was not really able to get the separation he’s used to getting against other big men off the dribble drive.
Jokic’s fluidity and ability to make decisions in the air and with a pivot foot down is second to none. He is elite at setting up his defenders with simple moves such as look offs, taking an extra dribble to put the defender in a tough position like how he split the pick and roll with Porter early in the first. It was such a small move, yet it was so effective as it forced the big to come up and contest Jokic and leave the backdoor cut open.
When asked about Nikola Jokic pre-game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had this to say about the front runner for MVP; “To me, the step that he’s made as an MVP candidate is that he punishes you by scoring the ball now.” The Joker finished with only seventeen points but gets the triple double with 11 assists and 10 rebounds. His grade is not necessarily based on his statistical production rather the fact they got burnt out late and his offensive production for his teammates couldn’t get the team out of the slump, despite the 11 assists.
Michael Porter Junior C
With Michael Porter Junior having the worst shooting night of his career two months ago in Boston, he looked like he came out on a mission to not have a repeat performance against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. He started the first quarter scorching hot, scoring 9 points in seven minutes to start the game. His shooting began to crater as he seemed to have injured his hand on an almost botched fast-break dunk in the first.
Porter finished the game as the highest scoring Nugget with 22 points, however it was on 23 shots and he was 1-12 from beyond the arc. He continues to finish with ease around the rim and is truly just a special player at using his length to his advantage. The growth he displays at so young in his career is a great sign moving forward. He took a lot of bad shots this game that kind of cratered their chances to win with inefficient shots early in the shot clock. His stroke obviously was not there, and he could have looked to create for others more.
Aaron Gordon B
Gordon seems to have no problem as the fourth option and seems so excited to play basketball again. He is moving with intensity and a purpose on both ends of the floor now, he seems to be playing harder than he did in Orlando. The only downside to him trying to find his role in the team is he does not really hunt for his own looks too often. However, in Orlando he was not too efficient on his own, so it is possible the Nuggets do not want to open him to expect that on a regular basis, even with Jamal Murray out.
He is going to be a deadly weapon for them in the playoffs as the fourth option so it’s understandable the team not wanting to give him the full range In the offense especially when you have such dynamic and intelligent creators on the team already. They just need him to cut with a purpose, flash to the rim on the fast break and play hard on defense. Defensively he is a weapon that can serve as a valuable one against some of the West’s most dominant wings and especially if this team were to make it to the Finals and likely face the Nets.
Facundo Campazzo A
Facundo does not tend to fill up the stat sheet but his pairing alongside Jokic forces the entire team to be unselfish when they are on the floor together. However, this game he contributed fourteen points on 5-6 from the field and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. His unselfishness and ability to intelligently space the floor with back cuts, passes and running the floor in transition. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
This game, he deserves an A grade not only for his shooting ability but his defense early in the game. He moved his feet very well to stay in front of Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Campazzo was impressive with his ability to hold his own against a talented back court. It should make Coach Malone more confident in his ability to run the offense with the bench. It truly would have been a different game if Jamal Murray plays and they were able to get some of this production from Campazzo to facilitate the bench offense that had zero pulse this game.
Paul Milsap C+
Millsap probably should have had a lower grade after this performance in which he was 1-5 from the field and had a +/- of -23 on the game. While he and the bench mob did not have a great showing this game, allowing the Celtics to get back into it before halftime following a big lead early. However, while watching this game, one could think of the possibilities the Nuggets have with this roster. Paul Milsap’s role off the bench will provide to be extremely crucial for the Nuggets in the playoff. He gives them a reliable forward they can run their offense through if they need to. However, Milsap is great when switched onto smaller guards and has enough experience and basketball IQ to pass out of double teams and the defense shading over to protect the rim.
The fact that he will most likely be somewhat of a 6th man coming off the bench should add depth against other Western Conference teams without enough front court depth. The only downside to Millsap is his lack of foot speed which makes it difficult for the Nuggets to switch everything with him and Jokic on the floor together. The best fit for Milsap should prove to be at the four next to Nuggets fan-favorite JaVale McGee while Jokic is able to get some rest.