The Denver Nuggets play today! What is the most exciting aspect of Game 1 for this Nuggets squad?
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): I’m exciting to see the dynamic between Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris. This is Denver’s Big Three right now. They’ve had opportunities to move all three guys in trades for veteran contributors, but all three are still on the team and will determine Denver’s present course. If all three live up to their potential, the Nuggets should not only be title contenders, but possibly favorites given the depth behind this trio. It all starts Game 1 though.
Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): It’s the start of what could the most exciting Nuggets season of all-time. If this team plays to their talent level, the Nuggets could definitely achieve the franchises first ever championship. It all starts tonight as the Nuggets look to open their season on the right foot against a team that ended their championship aspirations last season. A rivalry is brewing between Denver and Portland, which will have another chapter written after Wednesday nights game.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): Expectations. Denver has had disappointments, and hopes, but it’s been quite a while since they had expectations. They’re expected to do well. They’re expected to contend in the West, and not just by fans huffing paint fumes. From Game 1 to Game 82 and beyond, the Denver Nuggets finally have the expectations that Denver Broncos fans have every year. It’s a nice feeling - now we’ll see how the Nuggets feel about it, and how they play with expectations on their shoulders.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): It’s the return of a team that we know is good. This young team had a great first run in the playoffs together, and they’re all back for another postseason run. It’s great to be able to cheer for a group of players that can say they are a playoff team. It had been too long.
Michael Porter Jr. and Michael Malone spoke about sacrifice on Tuesday as if Porter would not be in the opening night rotation. What’s your first reaction to Porter on the outside looking in?
Blackburn: There’s definitely an understanding that the minutes for MPJ will be less than desirable for MPJ, and honestly, that’s probably okay. It’s unfortunate for Nuggets fans looking for as much Porter on the floor as possible, but earning his minutes will be best for Denver’s ecosystem. If he does earn it, then the Nuggets will be that much better for it.
Ewing: It probably is not the worst idea and it is also something that should not last for a long time. Something will happen that will give Porter an opportunity to flash his talents, but he will have to be patient. Once that opportunity comes, Porter has to run with it and if he does, it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup. It is all about making the most of the chances you are given, which Malone should give Porter sooner rather that later.
Gross: I don’t think Michael Porter Jr. can play 1800+ minutes this regular season, and it looks like the Nuggets are going to pace him. I don’t care at all that he might not get minutes in Game 1 (although I am absolutely certain that he will care). This lets Porter fit into the team, and to work up to what he can do, without Denver losing him as he hits the first full-year wall that Monte Morris seemed to hit last year in the playoffs. Having MPJ as a fully-prepared weapon for the playoffs is a huge mismatch possibility, and I hope that Denver plans their use of him accordingly.
Lewis: I’m fine with Porter Jr. not being in the rotation to start the season. But if that’s the situation he’s in by the All-Star break, something isn’t going right. The Nuggets could potentially have a real difference maker on their hands, and they need to get as much production as they can from players on rookie deals so they can afford to spend in other areas. Make a big trade! Make a spot open up for MPJ!
All right! The game is on ESPN, all eyes will be on the Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers at that point. Who wins and why?
Blackburn: I think the Nuggets win by 20 points, which is a pretty hot take. After watching the team in training camp and practice though, they just appear so ready to go. There’s been enough talk from us media pundits, the Nuggets are clearly antsy to stop hearing the talk and start walking the walk. They are motivated with high expectations, and they will be out for a bit of revenge today to boot.
Ewing: The Nuggets will win because they have the best player on the floor — Nikola Jokic — and a superior bench unit. Jokic is going to have a triple-double and Jerami Grant will score 20 points off the bench in the Nuggets first victory of the season. Book it.
Gross: The Nuggets have had 6 months to think about their Game 7 loss to the Blazers. They are not trying to incorporate anyone new, while the Blazers have swapped several significant lineup pieces and have to adjust to Hassan Whiteside instead of Jusuf Nurkic with the starters. I expect the Nuggets and their easy continuity to win the day - but don’t worry, there are several more matchups between the teams still to come this year. This is just the opening salvo.
Lewis: Look, it’s an opening night game on the road. The Nuggets will most likely lose. It’s better to prepare for a loss - that makes a win a suprising reward. The path for a Nuggets win is to maintain a small lead through the first three quarters, then blitz to start the fourth quarter and be ahead by 10+ with 5 minutes left. If they can avoid getting into a “Lillard Time” moment, that would be ideal. I don’t think that’ll happen, unfortunately. I’d love to be wrong.