The NBA schedule is here and it’s time for everyone to react.
Which date to you have circled on the calendar?
Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops): I’m interested in watching the Nuggets vs Hawks game on October 27. The game is back in Atlanta so it will be interesting to see how Hawks fans react to Millsap now that he’s moved on. Also, I’m definitely looking forward to the first Trail Blazers match up on November 13th. I’m hoping Nurkic will be healthy, but I just want to see the Nuggets beat this team every single time they play one another. And finally, for some reason I’m really excited to see the Nuggets play the Lakers this season. Somehow I feel like seeing the young Nuggets play Lonzo Ball will be a good measuring stick for their potential.
Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): January 22nd, when Jusuf Nurkic returns to Pepsi Center. That’s way too far out for my liking. Why didn’t they put that in week one? It’s also on a Monday night, the night after the AFC championship game. Quite frankly, this game has a lot working against it. But I’ll do everything within my power to get Pepsi Center packed and rocking that night. Hopefully he is booed non-stop for 48 minutes.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): The home opener, October 21st versus Sacramento. Denver is on the road for 5 of its first 7 games so if they want to make a statement for the 50th anniversary of the team, the home opener is their shot. I remember the home opener for the first year of the Carmelo Anthony Nuggets with guys walking down the aisles out of the crowd and trying to set a new tone for the year. This is the first year since the George Karl era that the team is garnering some national attention for its upside, and I’d like to see them capitalize on it and snag some momentum (and exposure) for the young squad.
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): April 5th vs the Minnesota Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns vs Nikola Jokic as franchise stars. Jimmy Butler vs Paul Millsap as incoming stars. Andrew Wiggins vs Gary Harris in the battle of usage vs efficiency. That will kick off a four game stretch at the end of the year against teams with playoff aspirations, and it’s nationally televised. Need I say more?
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): Saturday, February 3, when the Nuggets host the Warriors. Maybe it’ll be a Western Conference Finals preview!
What do you make of the fact that the Nuggets have nine games on national TV?
Douglas: Honestly, given their performance the last few seasons it sounds about right. Yes, they have a blossoming core and they’re on track to have some success for the first time in a long time, but they’ve got to prove it to the league that they’re worthy of the spotlight. No television station wants to air blowout games played by teams who don’t put in the effort for the fans. That’s definitely not today’s Nuggets, but the scar tissue from a couple of years back is still there. Bottom line is they’ve got to earn their spot.
Mares: What an improvement! It’s certainly better than two or three like the last few seasons. It’s also weird that they don’t have a nationally televised game in December. They have three in November and three in February which is a bit strange but whatever. It’s a step up.
Gross: Someone apparently told the schedulers that Denver basketball is fun again. Denver has a lot of offensive firepower, an exciting style, and with last year’s defensive challenges they still might not be blowing out a lot of teams in the national spotlight. That makes them a good opponent for anyone looking to have a fun game. I’m glad to see it, even though the national commentators will mispronounce Jokic a hundred times and run down the Nuggets at every opportunity. The first step toward making an impression is to get seen in the first place, and at least Denver is there.
Blackburn: I’m pleasantly surprised. This is the league predicting that the Nuggets will be more competitive than they were last year, and I obviously agree. I’m hopeful that Denver will perform well in these games,as they are all against potential playoff squads. Need I say more?
Lewis: We should probably thank Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic for that. If the Nuggets can jettison the remaining players from the “1, 2, 3, 6 weeks” group, I think the organization is poised to present a fun team that people will connect with from across the country.
What will the Nuggets record be through their first 10 games?
Douglas: Ever the optimist, I’m going to give the Nuggets 6 out of 10 with Millsap on board. Having Murray healthy alongside Jokic and Millsap is something I am truly pumped about. As long as Malone doesn’t mess with the lineup too much the Nuggets should be on track for a winning debut.
Mares: 6-4. They have a long road trip that could act as a nice bonding trip for the team, especially since it’s mostly against bad teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and New York Knicks. 6-4 would be a solid start, even if it underwhelms the general public that will still be enthralled by the NFL season.
Gross: The road games aren’t tough, but that last three of Raptors-Heat-Warriors at home is pretty killer. I’ll go 5-5, with at least one game blown with last-minute execution issues that will drive us all crazy. Nugglife can’t just turn into a song-filled meadow overnight.
Blackburn: There are no real gimmes during this stretch except a game against Brooklyn. I don’t want to go overboard, but I think they can go 7-3. They only play against five playoff teams from last season, and two of the teams (Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks) are decidedly worse. If Denver wants to boost its stock around the league, they need to come out strong. 7-3 sounds crazy for Nuggets fans, but it isn’t crazy anymore.
Lewis: I think they’ll go 5-5. I think the Jazz will struggle this year, especially as they adapt to life without Gordon Hayward at the beginning of the season. They should be able to beat Kristaps and Carmelo in New York, and the Nets are going to be awful for a while longer. A split of their first ten games is nothing to be too concerned about.