Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported during TNT’s broadcast of game three of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers that the Nuggets could potentially get even more help if the series goes long. Haynes stated that Nuggets wing Will Barton has not been ruled out for the series and potentially could make a return before the Western Conference Finals.
Haynes reported that Barton was been rehabbing his knee in Miami and receiving daily coronavirus tests. This means Barton would only have to quarantine for four days if he were to re-enter the bubble. The Nuggets will play game six, if necessary, next Sunday so if Barton were to be back for either game six or seven he would need to re-enter the bubble this week.
The series between the Nuggets and Clippers is only guaranteed to go five games as of now, but given they split the first two it’s not far fetched to think this could be a lengthy series. Barton could provide a big boost to Denver and potentially push them over the top just like Gary Harris did for the team in the first round against the Utah Jazz. With Harris shoring up the Nuggets perimeter defense, one of their biggest weaknesses at the moment has become bench scoring.
So far these playoffs Michael Porter Jr hasn’t been able to replicate the scoring he showed in the seeding games and with Jerami Grant and Harris in the starting lineup the remaining scoring options on the bench are extremely limited. Barton would give the Nuggets bench another scoring and playmaking option and put Denver’s reserves on par with a deep Clippers team.
Like Harris though, the Nuggets will have to be certain that Barton is 100% ready to go. Will tried playing hurt in last year’s playoffs and the results were not good. Ultimately he ended up losing his starting job to Torrey Craig. Healthy again this season he’s been a big part of Denver’s core and was a consistent producer in the starting lineup. With coach Michael Malone finding something in Grant and Harris as a lockdown perimeter duo it’s unlikely Barton would gain back his starting spot this postseason, at least until one of those aforementioned players struggles. However, Will the Thrill’s value in the rotation, if he’s healthy, is undeniable.