Nuggets Weekly Recap: Improvements, Yet Missed Opportunities

by | Jan 5, 2021 | Editorial Pick, Sports Report

The Denver Nuggets went 2-2 this week with double digit wins versus the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves, and losses against the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. They currently sit at a disappointing 2-4 on the season.

The week was a marked improvement from their first two losses, albeit with some missed opportunities. The Nuggets held leads in every fourth quarter this week, but finishing games remains an issue for this team. Their inability to win close games was most apparent in their matchup vs the Suns, where they gave up a critical Devin Booker 3-pointer and Chris Paul baseline pull-up jumper to lose the game. Another area that cost the Nuggets was free throw shooting – they shot just 69.6% from the charity stripe, including 18 for 32 versus the Rockets, giving away free points that could’ve kept the games closer.

There were, however, some encouraging signs for a team that expected to be much better after 6 games. The Nuggets out rebounded their opponent in every single game, and out shot their opponent from deep in 3 out of their 4 games, averaging 42% 3-point percentage for the week. These were two facets of the game that Coach Mike Malone stressed as key areas after the team’s first two losses to the Kings and Clippers.

Furthermore, the Nuggets superstars finally looked like a fearsome duo. Nikola Jokic averaged a triple double for the week, and Jamal Murray sat out the game versus the Kings but came back to put up 31 and 36 against the Suns and Timberwolves. The Nuggets success starts with these two, and the duo will need them to be on their game every night in order to win games and clinch a playoff spot.

Additionally, role players have been stepping up for the Nuggets, albeit in very inconsistent stretches. Michael Porter Jr. exploded for 30 points versus the Kings in Jamal Murray’s absence, and Facundo Campazzo had 15 crucial points versus the Timberwolves. The Nuggets’ role players stepping up has been a great sign for a team that has the potential to be one of the deepest in the Western Conference this year.

Next week the Nuggets have a rematch with the Timberwolves, then face the Dallas Mavericks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks.