For die hard NBA fans, all 82 regular season games provide something to get excited about. Whether it's a marquee match-up between two stars, bad blood from rivalries past, or a tight race in the playoff standings, every night provides something to look forward to. However, some games just have a bit more built in drama than others.
Last season, the best NBA game of the entire regular season was Golden State Warriors at the Atlanta Hawks. It was a display of pure basketball joy watching two teams in mid-season form trade blow after blow, 3-point shot after 3-point shot, perfectly executed play after perfectly executed play. No one could've predicted last October that a game in early February between these two unlikely powerhouses would've provided such great theater. That is the cool thing about the NBA. Any night can provide an interesting match-up.
This season, the Nuggets should provide plenty of interesting games, match-ups, and storylines. Whereas last season it would've been easier to make a "worst 10 games of the season," this year it was almost impossible to pick just 10 games that were most exciting. Nonetheless, looking forward to all 82 regular season Nuggets games, here are my projections for the top 10 games of the year.
November 22 - Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets - Last season the Warriors rested Steph Curry, the season's MVP, and several other key players in their only visit to Pepsi Center. Coach Steve Kerr said before that game that he regrets having to do that to the Denver fans and the entire organization seemed very aware of their obligation to fans in opponent arenas. That makes them almost a lock to play all of their starters this year.
There is also the storyline that they are the defending champions and one of the best teams of the last decade. And if none of that does anything for you, it is also one of head coach Michael Malone's former teams. I'm sure his game plan will be on point.
Mar 6 - Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets: The return of our beloved Melvin Hunt!
Mar 12 - Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets: Nene returns home and a great head to head battle between John Wall and Emmanuel Mudiay. The two point guards have been compared to each other quite a bit recently even though the comparison is iffy at best. Nonetheless, it will be fun to see two tall point guards making cross court passes back and forth, especially late in the season when things start to get more and more serious.
10) December 28 - Cleveland Cavaliers at Denver Nuggets: It's always worthwhile watching the best player on the planet play. The Cavaliers may end up being the 2016 NBA champions and by the week after Christmas, the entire team should be healthy and starting to reach mid season form. It will be a fun test for the Nuggets and a chance to watch our old friend, Timofey Mozgov (and J.R. Smith, I guess).
9) April 10 - Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets: Utah might be fighting for the 8th seed in the playoffs and on the 2nd to last game of the season, the Nuggets can pay spoiler. Utah is a year ahead of Denver in the rebuild process but it would be great if, by the end of the season, the Nuggets are in position to leapfrog them in the race to build a legitimate playoff contender.
8) November 3 - Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers: The beginning of a rivalry? Just one week into the season, Nuggets fans will get to see the first match-up between Mudiay and fellow rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell. Mudiay has downplayed the prospects of a potential rivalry but anyone reading between the lines can see that this is a game he has circled on his calendar.
7) Jan 19 - Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets: With uncertainty around the team's pending free agent, this year might be both the best and last year Nuggets fans get to watch Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook together, live and in person. Of the last decade, the Thunder have easily been one of the most iconic teams in the league and regardless of what happens in June, NBA fans will always remember this Thunder team. By January, OKC should be hitting their stride under new coach Billy Donovan and it will be a great chance to watch the young Nuggets go up against them at Pepsi Center.
6) November 13 - Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets: The return of Ty Lawson to Pepsi Center. It's not worth wishing Ty ill will or hoping that his career turns into a failure. But it's also easy to remember that he, perhaps more than anyone else, flat out quit on the Nuggets last season to an extent that I have never seen in NBA basketball. So while I don't wish him ill will, I do hope that on this Friday the 13th, Nuggets fans and the team will create a nightmare for Ty and the Rockets.
5) Feb 7 - Denver Nuggets at New York Knicks: Madison Square Garden is a special place and on a cold day in February, Mudiay will make his first trip to the big apple. By then, Mudiay will hopefully have created some rookie of the year buzz and the Garden itself will be buzzing. The game will also be a match-up between former Nuggets Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo. The game will be a win-win for the Nuggets as the loser will move up in the lottery standings and either way, the Nuggets will move closer to a #1 pick.
And if none of that intrigues you, it will also be a mid day game leading right in to the Super Bowl, where Peyton Manning will soon win a ring for the Denver Broncos as he rides off into the sunset.
4) Feb 23 - Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets: Last season the Nuggets embarrassed fans with their blatant and intentional lack of any kind of ceremony or tribute to former Nuggets coach, George Karl. This season, the plot thickens as Sacramento's former coach, Michael Malone, is now the coach in Denver. Hopefully the Nuggets will get their act together, show some class, and honor the 2nd winningest coach in Nuggets history, while also allowing Malone and the team to run the poor Kings off of the court.
3) October 28 - Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets: OMG this game is tomorrow! So many storylines. Opening night, Mudiay's official NBA debut, Malone's debut as the Nuggets head coach, Ty Lawson's debut as a Rocket. But perhaps best of all, it's also the first (of many) Denver Stiffs Night Out. We can watch this historic event together while rocking sweet Denver Stiffs T-Shirts.
2) Dec 22/Mar 2 - Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets: The Mudiay vs. Russell duel comes to Pepsi Center. There is also a good chance this is the last time Denver based NBA fans will ever get to watch Kobe Bryant live and in person. Get your popcorn ready. Also, buy a ticket. The Lakers game at Pepsi Center is always full of Laker bros who haven't watched a single second of NBA basketball in 5 years yet still rep their Laker gear and make obscene gestures at the game. It's awful.
1) October 30 - Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets: There's nothing like opening night. The crowd has so much energy, excitement, angst, hope, alcohol, and brashness. All of those feeling will be amplified since it's the first chance for Nuggets fans to see Mudiay up close for the first time. It helps that it is one of only a handful of games in the first month of the season that the Nuggets should be favored in. Add in the excitement of high flying dunkers like Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, and the #1 overall pick, Karl-Anthony Towns, and this game is a must see. And it's only 3 days away!