In case you missed it, the Denver Nuggets schedule for the Orlando bubble was released publicly, with Denver facing several opponents they were previously slated to play as well as a couple new teams.
Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets will play a range of playoff teams over the course of this eight game period, as well as the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers hoping to sneak into the playoff race.
Stiffs writers reacted to the schedule release here:
Were you surprised by anything on the Denver Nuggets schedule release on Friday?
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): The only major changes to Denver’s schedule were to remove the second games against the Spurs and Thunder and replace those with other comparable opponents in the Blazers and Jazz. The Blazers will present more of a challenge than the Spurs, but the Jazz may present less of a challenge than the Thunder for Denver. The biggest surprise to me was having five national TV games, even though some of those will be earlier in the day.
Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717): Nothing really surprised me about the schedule release, I’m just glad there are finally games on paper that we can be excited about. The Nuggets having two games on ESPN and TNT was a little surprising, but certainly in a good way. As someone who does not have DIRECTV (Hulu has live sports) I’m excited that I’ll be able to watch at least five — one game is also on NBA TV — of the Nuggets eight games.
Nick Hertzog (@NickHertzogSBN): Yes, I am surprised there are actually going to be NBA games in 2020. With COVID spiking around the country — Florida included — it’s hard for me to imagine these eight games actually happening. I’m hopeful that we get not just these games but a full playoffs and legit NBA Champion, of course, but I’m not sure I would put a now-legal bet on that happening. And I’m also not sure the NBA is doing the right thing here.
The Nuggets will have at least five national television games on their schedule against the Heat, Thunder, Jazz, Lakers, and Clippers. Which of those is a must-watch game?
Blackburn: Against the Jazz, the Nuggets may have an opportunity to generate a swing game that will help Denver separate from the rest of the pack fighting for seeding in the West. In addition, if Denver stays close enough to the Clippers, that seventh game against LAC could have big seeding implications. If Denver could somehow shoehorn the Lakers and Clippers into the same side of the bracket, that would be a big deal for Denver’s playoff path.
Ewing: The Heat game is the one I’m circling. With it being the first game the Nuggets have played since March, it will just be nice to have basketball back on the television screen. It will also be our first look and 4-pack Nikola Jokic, which is must see television. Not to mention, Twitter is going to explode when Michael Porter Jr. hits a step-back three, which is undoubtedly going to happen.
Hertzog: All of them. The season is completely up for grabs. It’s impossible to imagine which teams will handle the layoff well and which won’t. All of this is unprecedented. Plus, we’ve been starved for sports since March, so literally any live sporting event is must-watch TV for me right now. If I had to pick a game I am most looking forward to, it’s the LAs, of course. I’m curious to see what our newly slimmed COVID-surviving star can do against Anthony Davis and the Clippers’ massive front line.
Predict Denver’s win-loss record in the eight games in the Orlando bubble:
Blackburn: I’m drinking the Kool-Aid and going with 6-2. Denver will drop one of their early games against the Heat, Thunder, or Blazers, but they will have an opportunity to rattle off wins versus teams that may not have any seeding to play for later in the bracket. The Lakers will be locked into the first seed in the West, and the Raptors may be locked into the second seed in the East by the last game. If Denver still has an opportunity to push the Clippers into the other side of the bracket, they will probably be excited to do so. In addition, Denver’s rotation is nearly settled with defined roles for every player but Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. on the wing. That’s more to go on than most teams right now.
Ewing: I’ll say the Nuggets go 5-3. The Lakers and Clippers games have me worried, as does a random game against someone like San Antonio or Toronto. It would not surprise me if the Nuggets beat one of the two LA’s teams, but potentially drop one against a team they — on paper — should beat. Let’s just hope that Denver can find a way to finish their remaining eight games strong, so they go into the playoffs riding a little momentum.
Hertzog: 4-4. And I’d be happy with that. All I want to see from the Nuggets is cohesion, effort, and focus. There is bound to be a lot of sloppy play during this stretch, so they’ll probably lose a couple they should win. But if the tenacity, fitness, and teamwork is there, then I don’t really care what their regular season record ends up being. I can see them making a real push for a championship, which will be completely legitimate (unless the Lakers win, in which case it will have a extra bold asterisk).