Watching these Nuggets play defense is fun.
The scrambling, switching style is really great when it’s working. Most of the time this season it has worked. It gets tested by guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo that are fast and relentless drivers. Otherwise, the Nuggets have done a nice job recently of chasing shooters off the line and forcing opponents into bad shots.
In the games between Jamal Murray’s 48-point burst versus the Celtics and his outrageous plus-37 performance on Friday night, Murray sometimes looked out-of-sorts. It looked like he was putting out effort but in sort of a directionless way. Over the last two games, his effort has looked focused. His switches have been decisive, his coverage superb. He’s had a nice nose for the ball both rebounding and defensively.
As Jamal’s effort settles into a nice, confident flow, so do the Nuggets, there’s been a definite shift in effort from the whole team. It’s not that the effort was lacking, there was just not appropriate direction and that can be frustrating. Particularly to a guy like Jokic who relies on focused effort from himself and his teammates to thrive.
That Murray is a beacon for that effort is reassuring, Denver’s fortunes still have a lot to do with the play of the Blue Arrow. That the effort is top-to-bottom on this roster is further testament to both the construction of the roster and the coaching it has received. I feel more confident in the Nuggets today than I did when they were 9-1. The win over Orlando felt like an awakening.
A large part of this season’s success has been fueled by outstanding play from the Nuggets reserves: