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Stiffs Mailbag: A Western Conference showdown is afoot

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We are back and better than ever.

LA Clippers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Stiffs Mailbag has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks, but we are back and better than ever. There are going to be a ton of items to discuss on this week’s mailbag, but why not start with the Nuggets unbelievable record?

Even though it seems like there have been a number of ups and downs with the Nuggets so far this season, they are still off to the franchise’s best start through 58 games (40-18) in FRANCHISE HISTORY. I repeat... THE BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY!

Not only are the Nuggets playing some really good basketball as of late, but even when they were not at the beginning of the year, they still found a way to stack up victories. That is going to be crucial as they push the Lakers for the one seed and hopefully Denver can find a way to secure that home court advantage, which would be a huge bonus if or when they make the Western Conference Finals.

But, there are still some questions that remain with this team, and that’s where you guys come in. Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag, it certainly was a doozy, so let’s get some questions answered!


It is tough to see any of the Nuggets newly acquired players — Noah Vonleh, Keita Bates-Diop, or Jordan McRae — getting any minutes against the Clippers. It would be a curve ball like you mentioned, and we did see Michael Malone do that already when Vonleh played against the Los Angeles Lakers just a few weeks ago, even though that was without Mason Plumlee available.

The Nuggets are finally healthy now, which makes it difficult to see any of these guys playing in this game or anytime throughout the season really. Denver was already a deep team before they made these trades and the Nuggets shipped out three players — Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt — because they had no room for them.

There is an argument to made as to why the Nuggets would trade three players — even though they were not going to play — for a different set of three players that well, are not going to play. If the Nuggets do not use the first round pick they got from Houston wisely, I’ll always have doubts about the trade. Still, it’s nice to see Juancho and Malik playing solid and consistent minutes now.

But with regard to the new guys, unless there is an injury or something funky happens, it will be tough for any of the new players to get minutes moving forward.


I am so glad a Jamal Murray question made it in here because he is someone that honestly does not get talked about enough. I know, I know, he is the second star on the team, but I’m not so sure people don't appreciate Murray as much as they should.

Murray is really good — I mean really good — and could truly be the X-factor not just in the regular season, but postseason as well. It feels like that ankle injury could have been the greatest thing that could have happened to Murray. Do not get me wrong, injuries suck, but Murray being able to watch from the bench and gain that perspective is something that could really help him in the long-term.

From the moment he retuned from his ankle sprain, Murray has been on fire and has arguably been the Nuggets best scorer. Murray is playing with confidence not just as a scorer, but as a creator and is constantly making the right decision with the basketball.

The stats might always be lagging with Murray because he is not a guy who dominates the ball, but he still finds a way to put up really good numbers. If Murray will continue to play confident and with decisiveness, I truly think he could make the Nuggets into a true title contender.


Very good question and is something that will be a talking point till the moment these teams matchup in the playoffs. Now, it would be nice if the Nuggets don't have the face the Lakers until the Conference Finals, but when that day comes, they have to be ready.

Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant, and Nikola Jokic.

This idea just popped into my head and is something I think could work. The floor spacing could potentially be an issue, but I like the matchup of having Grant on LeBron and Millsap on Anthony Davis. Millsap just plays with an edge that I think could get Davis a little flustered and Grant has done fairly well defending LeBron in the past.

It would also give you the option to sub out either Grant or Millsap around the halfway point of the quarter and put Will Barton III in. Say Millsap is that guy, you could then mix him in with the bench unit, which we have already seen this season is an absolute cheat code.

I am not sure this would work, but it’s something I’m intrigued by. The Nuggets have struggled at times stopping both LeBron and Davis, so why not try something like this and see what happens? I feel like the most likely outcome in a potential playoff series is the Nuggets try about 84,000 lineups to slow down the Lakers, and hopefully one will stick.

Who knows ... maybe that combination is the one listed above.

The team they are playing tonight in the Clippers is who I would be most concerned with if I were the Nuggets. The Lakers are certainly scary and it is incredibly tough to slow down either of LeBron James or Anthony Davis, but that same thing can be said for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Leonard is arguably the best player in the NBA, and even though George is having a down year, he is still an incredibly gifted mismatch player. The Clippers also possess a really solid rotation as a whole, one that I think is better than what the Lakers have.

Tonight’s game will certainly answer a lot of questions for both teams. This is only the second time that Denver and LA have matched up this year with the Nuggets taking the first game 114-104 earlier this season at the Pepsi Center.

This game will be on the road, prime time, nationally televised, and will feature George, which the last game did not. Is it the end of the world if the Nuggets lose this one? Absolutely not. But, there is some stock you can take from this game if they win.

No matter what happens in the game tonight, the Clippers are going to be an incredibly tough out come playoff time. Aside from the Lakers, they would be the squad I would be most concerned about the Nuggets facing come playoff time.


I do think PJ Dozier is a quality NBA rotation player and I would love for him to stick around in Denver for the long-term. The Nuggets have been really good at identifying young talent — especially with their past two-way deals — and Dozier was another tremendous find.

Even in the limited minutes that Dozier has played with the Nuggets this season, he is constantly making the most of his opportunities. Dozier has also been one of the best players in the G-League this season, and that something that should not go overlooked.

The thing you have to love with Dozier is his length at the point guard position. Not many point guards are as tall and lengthy as he is, which gives Dozier an advantage not just offensively, but defensively as well.

Denver still has one open roster spot and it is tough to see anyone but Dozier grabbing it. The Nuggets do not seem like a candidate to sign any buyout players, and if they do not convert Dozier’s two-way deal to a full deal before the season is over, it would rule him ineligible to play in the postseason.

It is hard to envision a scenario where Dozier contributes to the Nuggets playoff push this season, but you just never know with injuries. The Nuggets would be wise to keep Dozier around long-term because he is an NBA player and could be a pretty good one at that.