The Denver Nuggets entered the NBA restart with a solid third-place position in the Western Conference. They went 3-3 in the month prior to the postponement of the season and Jamal Murray was averaging 19.5 points per game in March alone. Not to mention Nikola Jokic was averaging 12 rebounds and 8.1 assists during the same period. Denver was in a good place as they hit the middle of March.
Roughly four months off will take its toll on any team, as we’ve seen is the case now that we’re a few weeks into the restart. The Nuggets have by no means looked bad, as they have taken wins against Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Utah with final score tallies of 120. However, they have also taken some gut-punch losses to the Heat, Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Clippers respectively, with their opponents racking up 120+ in each matchup. With a record of 3-4 in seeding games and exceedingly unpredictable outcomes within the bubble, it’s hard to say whether or not the Nuggets have what it takes to build off their pre-pandemic success and re-light the fire that could make it worth a trip to your favorite casino online for a bet on them to make the NBA Finals.
What will help?
It’s undeniable that the Nuggets are expanding their repertoire when it comes to available talent. The emergence of Michael Porter Jr. in Orlando has been a key piece of Denver’s arsenal throughout the last seven games. Prior to the restart, he only surpassed 25 minutes of play on four occasions; he is now on the floor roughly 33 minutes per game. Porter Jr. has averaged just 9.3 points per game before the hiatus, but since seeding matchups began he has bumped that stat up to 22 points per game.
Porter Jr. has recorded two career-highs since the bubble began: career-high point total (37) against the Thunder and rebounds (15) versus the Spurs. He has also managed at least one block in six of the seven games back and seven total steals. With a spot secured and only one game left before the playoffs begin, the Nuggets will need to prioritize Porter Jr. in their game going forward if they hope to keep up with the talented field. If Porter Jr. can rise to another level, I’d consider checking the online sportsbooks betting codes for a good deal on the Nuggets.
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What will hurt?
Porter Jr. can’t save the Nuggets on his own. The defense is going to need to step up going forward, particularly in the areas of turnover and steal-reduction. Denver is averaging 14.4 turnovers per game in the month of August and they allowed 12 turnovers in one night against the Clippers.
They’re allowing opponents to score 124.1 points per night since seeding began, and while most of the totals in the bubble have been high for all teams, Denver is scoring just 119.8 per night. Jokic has been critical for the Nuggets at center, however, he’s averaging just 6.7 rebounds per game over the last seven games. In March, he grabbed 10.3 boards over a six-game span.
There is an incredible number of factors that go into the success of a team that’s coming back from a four-month hiatus in the middle of a pandemic. The Nuggets’ success in the first portion of the season proved to be a solid enough foundation to build upon throughout the restart.
But as the NBA has been reminding viewers, it’s a whole new game. Denver will need to look to their young stars like Porter Jr. as well as their more seasoned guys like Jokic if they hope to remain in Orlando. Thursday’s game against Brooklyn will be a solid final test for the team before they enter the playoffs.
Piper Westrom is a recent graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California and she is currently attending the University of San Francisco in the Sport Management graduate program. She was born and raised in Seattle and loves all of her hometown teams. In her free time, she loves attending concerts and live sporting events.