The NBA released the full Nuggets schedule today. Pick one Nuggets game that stood out the most to you:
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): February 12th against the Los Angeles Lakers on national television. This is the final game before the All-Star break and will be played at home. It’s important for the Nuggets to win on the margins as much as possible for seeding purposes, and on a game that the Lakers might decide they don’t want to try, the Nuggets must take advantage.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): I’m assuming we can’t say Christmas Day since we’ve known about that one for some time. I’ll take the opener then. I like the idea of the Nuggets facing the last team they saw last season first this season. Add in the National TV angle and I’m all for it
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): Pelicans/Nuggets on Christmas Day. I keep forgetting that the Nuggets play on Christmas for the first time in a while, and it’ll be nice to see Zion vs MPJ under the bright National lights after they get their feet under them for the regular season. Because it’s not against the Lakers the announcers might even remember Denver is playing in that game and mention it occasionally, too.
Jeremy Poley: (@JeremyPoley): Game 1 stood out to me. Maybe because it was the first one I saw. But also maybe because we get ourselves a sassy rematch. Portland turned into the whiniest fan-base out of nowhere last season. And even though their trumpeting leader Enis Kanter is gone, I’d like to walk into their arena on day 1 and drop some sass.
Denver will play 17 national television games this year, three more than last year. Did you expect more, less, or about 17 national TV games?
Blackburn: I thought Denver would be pushed up to about 20, but I certainly wouldn’t be complaining about exposure. Denver will play during opening week during ESPN’s first double-header of the season. They will play on Christmas for the first time in 25 years. They play on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20th at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and they play a number of national TV games in February as well.
Mikash: I’ll say less because I never expect the Nuggets to get a ton of attention. The cat appears to be fully out of the bag with this Nuggets team now. A word of caution though, the added exposure is further proof that expectations are very high and the Nuggets aren’t likely to catch anyone by surprise this year.
Gross: 17 out of 82 games is a nice healthy 20 percent of the schedule. 1 out of every 5 national games is about as much as I can expect Denver to have before they make a conference finals or add a Bron. It met my expectations. Now I’m just hoping the pronunciation cue cards are delivered on time, so I don’t have to hear All-NBA first teamer Nikola Jokic’s name butchered 7 different ways in one broadcast.
Poley: They earned this. Last year their national coverage shot up significantly without even having earned a playoff spot. So a little increase like this sounds about right to balance the scales.
Pick the easiest month and hardest month on Denver’s schedule:
Blackburn: March will be a grind. 10 of the 16 games will be against playoff teams in 2018-19, and 10 will be on the road. There’s potential for March to look a lot easier after the trade deadline though, as the Nuggets will play Oklahoma City and Toronto four times. Those teams were major threats last year but could trade most of their veterans by the deadline. Still, that’s the month to watch.
Mikash: March is essentially one giant road trip and hands down the toughest stretch of the schedule. As crazy as it sounds becomes it’s seems like forever since it’s been this way, but April actually might be the easiest week. Some decent competition sprinkled in there but nothing overwhelming and only two road games, tough though they are.
Gross: It’s March. The weird road trip scheduling, the dog days of the season post All-Star-Break, and trying to keep (or get) guys healthy for the playoffs will make for a rough month. Doesn’t mean it will be the month they win the fewest games, but I expect Denver to be feeling the pressure of being a favorite and trying to position themselves for the playoffs at that point.
Poley: Our easiest month is October - we play Portland three times. Hardest month is March and we don’t even have to look at the calendar to call that. March-ball will be ugly again, lots of fans will become critical, but just in time for a decent finish in April and solid launch into the playoffs.
It’s early, but on first look, the Nuggets should post a win-loss record of...
Blackburn: On first look, Denver should go about 54-28 or 55-27. There’s potential to go higher if they take a leap or other teams underperform, but that’s what I project at first glance.
Mikash: my first run through had them at 54 wins which feels just about right.
Gross: I have them at 53 wins looking at the schedule, but even on their own roster Denver has no idea how seamlessly Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr. will fit in, while other teams have had much more disruption. Denver is set up to come out of the gates fast - they have a lot of continuity and can work Grant and Porter in off the bench as needed while they find the right fit around all the returning starters. I’d love to see them top last year’s 54 victories and this team is certainly set up for that, but let’s see them stay healthy enough first. Fewer victories and a more healthy roster for the playoffs would be the preferred outcome in my book. Feel free to load balance, coach Malone.
Poley: 53-29. It’s a win less than last season, but that will disguise the fact that our team actually got better in a conference that sees several teams showing strong improvement in the win-loss column.