Denver Nuggets: 3 Keys to Recovering Their Mojo

Denver Nuggets (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

The Denver Nuggets have played a playoff game but have yet to take part in the NBA playoffs.  Tuesday begins their march.

The Denver Nuggets shot 6-for-28 or 21.4% from three-point range on Saturday’s playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.  It was a gut-punch for Nuggets fans who had expected that the malaise that defined the last quarter of the season for Denver was simply boredom and fatigue, waiting on an energy infusion from the start of the playoffs.

Playoffs that the Denver Nuggets hadn’t seen since the 2013 season.  The stated goal for the 2019 season. The crown jewel in the four-year (and counting) plan of Denver Nuggets General Manager Tim Connelly and head coach Michael Malone.

The Nuggets honored all of that with a superior effort on defense and an energetic, motion offense.  They were focused.  Then, a funny thing happened; The basketball simply would not go into the basket for the Nuggets.  See above referenced 3-point shooting percentage for confirmation of the incredibly bad shooting night the Denver Nuggets had.

It is unlikely that the Nuggets shoot as poorly as they did on Saturday again for the series. They had open looks, their offensive strategy was sound. The idea that Denver was stymied by the Spurs isn’t entirely accurate, it’s more that the Nuggets shot themselves out of the game.

There were bright spots, Gary Harris continues to settle back in to the player we know and love.  Will Barton was classic Thrill but had 15 points, 10 rebounds and two fantastic blocked shots.

Nikola Jokic continued his assault on the NBA history books, notching a triple-double in his first playoff game (10/1/14), joining a list that includes LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to have done so since the late-60’s. Again, Jokic does something that gets his name mentioned in the most elite company, even in a game in which he was never able to establish himself, offensively.

It’s testament to how much Nikola means to this Nuggets team.  His offense was operating at a very high level, he was getting deep and finding his teammates with wide-open looks, they just could not make the shots.  It was like a virus that infected even the steady shooting hands of Malik Beasley and Monte Morris.

Again, it’s unlikely that this is who the Nuggets are now and expectations are that they will rebound for Tuesday’s game 2.  Some things to consider as they move toward their ultimate goal: