Are the 2019-20 Denver Nuggets Good?

Is there a wider gap between a team’s actual performance last year and how many wins you’d expect them to get if you looked just at their roster than the Denver Nuggets? I mean, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and friends are decent basketball players, but the only true consistent All-Star they have on the roster is Nikola Jokic. In point of fact, there’s a team like that in the East and they barely made the playoffs last year with a former-Yugoslavia All-Star center and a cast of “meh” players. Why aren’t the Nuggets more like the Orlando Magic? Well, part …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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Breakfast Special: Kawhi Leonard’s Driveway Heroics

Every kid who has ever picked up a basketball has, in the driveway, counted down “3! 2! 1!” then launched a shot that beats the buzzer, leading the kid to yell “And the Celtics win the championship!” or whatever other team the kid’s growing up rooting for. But until Sunday, there had never been an actual Game 7 walk-off buzzer-beater to close out a series in NBA history. The only time it ever happened in a winner-take-all game—Michael Jordan‘s “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo in the first round in 1989—that was Game 5 of a best-of-five series. Every other example …

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Breakfast Special: Let There Be Game 7

After a complete garbage first round that was as chalk as the White Cliffs of Dover, we’ve got ourselves the thrills and chills of Game 7 imminent in Toronto and Denver. The Philadelphia 76ers got an insane MVP-level performance from Joel Embiid on their way to a 112-101 win, and the matched set of 11-point victories got completed by the Portland Trail Blazers in a 119-108 win over Denver in the nightcap. We begin in Philadelphia. Drawing an Embiid on the Enemy Here’s your insane stat of the night. Embiid had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting, pulled down 12 rebounds, …

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Breakfast Special: Smash TV

Do you like closely-contested, intense playoff basketball that comes down to the wire and gives a thrilling finish? Well, tough. We’re fresh out. Can I interest you in a pair of one-sided beatdowns normally reserved for regular-season games against lottery teams instead? Nothing puts out the flames of an underdog in a seven-game series like losing Game 5, and the Raptors and Nuggets now get a chance to close out on the road before coming home where they’ll be heavily favored in Game 7 if that’s the way this whole show turns out. We begin in Toronto. DEFENSE! DEFENSE! To …

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Breakfast Special: In Which Order Is Restored

Nothing shatters an in-six narrative quite like an underdog, up 2-1 and with a chance to lose Game 5 on the road before coming home and closing out their opponents, failing to do the one thing an underdog needs to do in order to win a playoff series. That’s right; the Sixers and Blazers couldn’t win a Game 4 at home. Toronto Raptors fans went from “crap, we’re going to lose on our home floor in Game 5 without Pascal Siakam” to “Conference Finals, here we come!” in as much time as it took Siakam to get some Mr. Miyagi …

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Breakfast Special: NBA Up! All Night

The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers played 68 minutes of basketball in Game 3, and when Portland won 140-137 on a late three-pointer in the fourth overtime by Rodney Hood, you had to get the feeling that the Nuggets’ fate—Portland in six—was sealed. This is doubly true when you consider that Nikola Jokic played 65 minutes—the second-most in a playoff game and third-most overall, and the longest time logged in a playoff contest since 1953 (Bob Cousy, 66 minutes against Syracuse)—while scoring 33 points, hauling down 18 rebounds, dishing 14 assists…and seeing his team lose. Enes Kanter‘s sore shoulder …

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Breakfast Special: Portland’s Rocky Mountain High

The series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game, and by that metric, Game 2 just marked the start of the Blazers-Nuggets series. Portland won 97-90 in an ugly ballgame that was as close as it was only because the Blazers couldn’t grab a defensive rebound to save their lives. Denver shot 34.7 percent (34-of-98) from the field but grabbed 23 offensive rebounds against 40 Portland defensive rebounds (36.5 percent of the total in a league where the average is closer to 22 or 23 percent). Even with that, and even with just nine turnovers, Denver lost anyway, …

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Breakfast Special: Attack of the Killer Jokic

The NBA Playoffs has seen a lot of Dark Ages garbage ball in the East and a lot of vintage Showtime in the West, a sign of the gulf in quality of play between basketball in the early games as opposed to the ones worth staying up late for. This was on display once again Monday night, as the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 121-113 in the Game 1 West nightcap after a stinker of a game that saw the Philadelphia 76ers level their series with the Toronto Raptors by winning Game 2 94-89. We begin with the …

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Breakfast Special: The Worst Game 7 I’ve Ever Seen

The first round of the NBA playoffs was so top-to-bottom terrible that in the process it made a fine argument for just reducing the number of teams in the playoffs from 16 to 8 and proceeding directly to the conference semifinals. Heck, I’m a Pacers fan and even I would be perfectly OK with those eight teams being conference-agnostic—Milwaukee-Utah, Toronto-Philadelphia, Golden State-Portland, and Denver-Houston would’ve been your four first-round matchups in that case. The four top East seeds went 16-2. The Blazers and Rockets won their series in 5, the Warriors needed 6 only because they seemed so hell bent …

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