At long last, Denver Nuggets basketball is returning in games that matter — games that will determine how the Nuggets will be seeded in the playoffs come May of next year. The story of the 2022-23 Denver Nuggets team will begin tomorrow night. There will be ups, there will be downs, rosters changes will likely happen — but all that starts tomorrow. Thank you for sticking this offseason out with me and the rest of Denver Stiffs. I will do my best personally to bring you guys a great coverage this season.

Tomorrow, the Nuggets will take on the Utah Jazz — a team that has been in battles with the Nuggets multiple times in the Nikola Jokic era. However, they have undergone a significant roster reconstruction. This is no longer the team that had a seven game series with the Nuggets in the bubble. It will be a litmus test for the Nuggets against bad teams. The Jazz are no longer looking to compete for a title — being closer to competing for Victor Wembanyama.

However, the Nuggets cannot come out flat. They have occasionally had slow starts in seasons past, but this is the year that they are going to try and take the title. This is the best shot the Nuggets have had to hoist up the first banner in franchise history. This will be a long season, and there won’t be much to take away from just one game. However, this will be a opportunity to set the tone for the start of a months long dance.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets @ Utah Jazz

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

How to Watch/Listen: Altitude TV, League Pass (if not blacked out), Altitude Sports Radio 92.5FM

Rival Blog: Utah Jazz

Projected Starting Lineups:

Jazz — Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynk, Jarred Vanderbilt

Nuggets — Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic

Three Things to Watch

Jamal Murray

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After missing a few games due to precautionary hamstring injury management, Jamal Murray should be good to go for the season opener according to Coach Michael Malone. With that it will be the first time in a year and a half that Jamal Murray will be able to return to a regular season NBA game. It will be a feel good moment for everyone surrounding the organization. Jamal Murray worked hard to get back — and it’s the hope that it will pay off.

How will his separation look? Will he be aggressive in scoring? Those are questions that fans will have in their mind, but the main focus should just be on can he be out there. If he can, that’s a success for the first game. Eventually he will need to be the star player we all know him to be, but for now he’s just coming back from a long term injury. Can he be serviceable in his minutes? If he can, that will be a success.

Team Defense

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While the first two preseason games left much to be desired on the defensive end — the final three games gave showcases of what the Nuggets improved defense could look like. The team defense was still not perfect, but it was vastly improved. The additions of Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be key to Nuggets’ defense. They’ve done well in all of their showings so far, and it will be a opportunity to set the tone for the defense moving forward in the season.

The team will need to come out and be engaged. The effort will need to be high, even against the Jazz. If you can’t guard the Jazz, how can you guard the Warriors or Celtics?

Michael Porter Jr.

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Michael Porter Jr. was the only member of the Nuggets’ starting five to play all of the five games. This came as a surprise, but he seems to be fully healthy. There will obviously be concerns about his health, but for the time being he is back. It’s likely that he will play more minutes than Jamal Murray initially and that includes tomorrow night.

He’s been the flamethrower that fans love watching in the preseason. The jumper looks as pure as ever and he is still a dynamic cutter. After only playing 9 games last season, like Jamal Murray, he will make his return to regular season action after a long hiatus.