We are fully into the dog days of NBA summer as August wears on and NBA training camp is still over a month away. Because of that, Denver Stiffs will be leading off every Monday from now until training camp with a Dog Days question of the week.
The biggest piece of news around the NBA over the course of the past week is the release of the 2021-22 regular season schedule, including national television schedules. That occurred last Friday, and the Nuggets schedule can be found in the image below as well as here in its entirety.
There are several takeaways that can be had from Denver’s schedule. They have 14 national TV games across TNT, ESPN, and ABC, the most they’ve had in a significant time. The month of December features 11 road games and just four home games. March and April combine to feature 13 home games and seven road games by comparison, including a drop off in strength of schedule.
With that in mind, Denver Stiffs asks: what will be the most exciting game of the 2021-22 regular season?
There are some great candidates to look back upon in previous years. In the 2017-18 season, the Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder combined for an instant classic with Gary Harris hitting a buzzer beater and running off the court. In the 2019-20 season, the Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers faced off prior to the All-Star break as the first and second seeds in the Western Conference and went to overtime in a thriller (that the Lakers won, but it showed the Nuggets belonged).
Last season featured a surprise entry between the Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls in which Facu Campazzo made a hero steal on defense that led to a Jamal Murray buzzer beater to force overtime and allowed Murray and Nikola Jokić to win the game in the free period. There were other candidates against better teams, but that one stands out to me as the most epic regular season win from the 2020-21 regular season.
So, what will be the next regular season game to remember for this Nuggets squad?
There are several candidates on the surface. It likely will occur in the second half of the season at home, potentially with a large audience. Perhaps it will happen on the 13th, 15th, 16th, or 19th of January against the Blazers, Lakers, Jazz, or Clippers? The Nuggets play all four in a row in a seven day span. Maybe something magical happens when the Brooklyn Nets come to town on February 6th? Perhaps the Golden State Warriors on March 10th? The Los Angeles Clippers on March 22nd?
My money would be on the game against the Phoenix Suns on March 24th. It’s a Thursday night game in late March against a team the Nuggets will surely bring their best effort against. The Suns obviously won’t waver either. They will be fighting for playoff seeding in all likelihood, and it will have been awhile since they played the Nuggets. In addition, Jamal Murray might be back and ready to go by that point, and the Nuggets will be in an interesting position when he returns. Whatever the case, Murray plays well against the Suns, and the Nuggets could need him for that matchup.
In reality, the best game of the season could just as easily be one that nobody expects to be a classic. Last year, Denver’s two best home games were against the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies. This year, it could be against the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, or another team that comes from out of nowhere and brings the best out of the Nuggets on a random day. It could be an epic Jokić performance, an unstoppable Michael Porter Jr. game, or something else that leads to greatness in an unexpected way.
The only question is, will you be there when it happens? Will you be watching greatness unfold?