Gary Harris (right hip) and Will Barton (right knee) will both be out for Denver’s first seeding game in the Orlando bubble, a major hit on Denver’s perimeter spacing, playmaking, and defense against a very solid Heat team. Jamal Murray is also questionable (left hamstring) and continues to deal with the bumps and bruises of maintaining a heavy burden as an offensive contributor.
Harris did not suit up for any of the scrimmages and was held out for precautionary purposes, according to Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. The Nuggets coach also said that Harris could play in a playoff game if need be, though that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in how healthy Harris actually is. The injury seems to be lingering, and the Nuggets, whether it be precautionary or not, have made the decision that they’d prefer Harris to get ready for the playoffs rather than push through a nagging injury.
Barton, on the other hand, did suit up for the final scrimmage against the Orlando Magic on Monday. He played 18 minutes in the first half and didn’t return in the second half. Barton appeared uncomfortable and ineffective in his time on the floor, and if the knee injury is truly bothering him, that’s a bad sign for the Nuggets. Barton is Denver’s secondary playmaker on the wing behind Jamal Murray and does a little bit of everything for the Nuggets on offense and defense. Not having Barton’s versatility would be a major blow for the Nuggets’ chances in the seeding and playoff games.
Torrey Craig, Michael Porter Jr., and Jerami Grant appear to be in line for an increase in playing time for Saturday’s game. The Heat start Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson on the wing and will be difficult to contain offensively no matter who’s out there. Craig would appear to have the best chance to neutralize Butler offensively, while Porter would appear to be the best option offensively to overpower Robinson. Grant started all three scrimmage games out of position for the Nuggets and will likely be called to do so again on Saturday. Even rookie sensation Bol Bol may see some playing time.
Vlatko Čančar also appears on the injury report as he has yet to make the journey to Orlando and continues to rehab a left foot injury while staying in Denver. Čančar would have been one of the players to benefit from Denver’s normal rotation players missing time during the scrimmages, but as far as his role during the seeding games and beyond, he was unlikely to be a contributor on the court.
We will see what happens with the Nuggets on Saturday, but it appears that the Nuggets will be operating at a disadvantage from the opening tip of their first seeding game.