The Denver Nuggets’ top 3 playoff threats in the West

Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic Jamal Murray Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic Jamal Murray Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nikola Jokic Luka Doncic
Nikola Jokic Luka Doncic (Photo by Milos Vujinovic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

3) The Dallas Mavericks

As seen in last year’s playoffs, Luka Doncic possesses the ability to take over a series as well as anyone in the league. In fact, his presence alone should worry fans of opposing teams any time he steps on the court.

At the trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks attempted to lessen Luka Magic’s scoring load when they added Kyrie Irving to the mix. By pairing the uber-talented guard with Doncic, the Mavs formed one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

In fact, the Irving-Doncic pairing may represent one of the most talented backcourts in the history of the game.

While the offensive talent of their all-star duo is undeniable, the Mavericks have gone a mediocre 3-4 since the trade and are 1-3 when Doncic and Irving share the court.

The Mavs, who have struggled mightily on defense all season (No. 23 in defensive rating), are recording an abysmal 119.7 defensive rating — good for second-worst in the league — since the Irving deal.

While Dallas has struggled with its overall defense and ball movement since adding Irving to the mix, the team has only played seven games with their new addition. By no means should a sample size that small rule out the Mavericks as serious threats to disrupt the balance of the Western Conference this spring.

This season, the Nuggets and Mavs split their four-game series. Each team notched a narrow one-point road win in what was a hotly contested rivalry.

Denver may need to bring their A-game to ensure a victory over a talented Dallas group. Furthermore, a Jokic-Doncic matchup would make for some sublime playmaking and energetic team offense.

As long as Doncic is on the court, the Mavs are a team to fear. After all, their superstar point guard singlehandedly demoralized the Suns in the second round last spring.

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Overall, Denver will have to deal with some stern opposition throughout the upcoming 2023 playoffs. In order to make their deepest run in franchise history, the Nuggets will need to play their very best on both ends of the floor.