Can the Denver Nuggets get stops in the playoffs?
And speaking of the playoffs, once the Denver Nuggets are there, can they get enough stops to win games?
In their first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors, a depleted Nuggets roster had no answer for the eventual NBA champions. This is, by no means, a fair assessment – one team had what it takes to go all the way while one was missing key contributors across the board.
Nikola Jokic has turned into a good defender at the five and the effort he puts in on that side of the ball is excellent.
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have been negative defenders when healthy and they’re coming off major injuries so yes, there are some concerns there. Luckily, they’re flanked by two of the best defenders at their positions in Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
In every playoff series, the Nuggets can throw their best forward defender (AG) on the best forward scorer, and the same for guards with KCP. It leaves them open to unfavorable switches but it’s a great way to start every possession.
There also has to be an element of defensive improvement for Murray and MPJ. In the second-round loss to the Phoenix Suns, Porter Jr. was targetted every time down the court by Chris Paul. CP3 put him in a pick-and-roll, dragged him out, and then attacked him with his mid-range mastery.
If his back is at full strength, would we see a defensive improvement from Michael Porter Jr.? If so, does this team has what it takes to get defensive stops in the playoffs?