Schedule the day! It is finally here.
The NBA released its schedule on Wednesday, and the Nuggets, expected to be one of many Western Conference contenders, had no shortage of nationally televised games.
The NBA consecutively rewarded reigning MVP Nikola Jokic with eight ESPN games, seven TNT games, one ABC game and 12 NBA TV games. That’s 28 nationally televised games in total. Oh, and Jamal Murray’s back. No more flirting with a comeback. After a year and a half, Murray’s diabolical two-step with Jokic will once again confuse opposing defenses.
One of the showpiece matchups, as the Denver Post first reports, will be a Christmas Day showdown against the Phoenix Suns in Denver. Forget the outcome of the game for a single second. If the Nuggets can arrive on Dec. 25 healthy, consider that a win.
The 82-match schedule is filled with intriguing clashes. Here are the 10 most anticipated games on Denver’s schedule.
10. vs. Boston on Jan. 1
Last season, the Celtics came to Denver and knocked out the Nuggets in a 20-point win in March. In a nutshell, it underscored the gap between the Nuggets and the Celtics, who eventually reached the final. The effort was so lackluster that Celtics fans swarmed Ball Arena, but took it over with “MVP” chants for their two stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Now healthy, the Nuggets can redeem themselves from that terrible performance. Plus, given the shrewd additions of Calvin Booth this offseason, the Nuggets are better equipped to handle Boston’s aforementioned wings with defensive stoppers Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown.
9. vs. Memphis on Dec. 20
The Grizzlies gave the Nuggets trouble last season, going 3-1 against Denver. In the three games he played, Ja Morant cooked the Nuggets backcourt for more than 27 points per game. Morant is viewing by appointment. His amazing athleticism is a test for any defense. Add to that the plays Memphis has around it, and Denver will face a tall order. The two teams are on the same trajectory in the West. It’s a safe bet that a playoff showdown isn’t too far down the road.
8. vs. New Orleans on Jan. 31
Does anyone need a refresher on the masterpiece Sir Nikola wrote (yes, a Sir after that game) against the Pelicans on March 6? Jokic scored 30 of his 46 points throughout the fourth quarter and overtime, dictating and controlling everything about the outcome of this contest. He averaged 34.8 points in four outings against the Pelicans, shooting a princely 68.9 percent from the field. Now add a healthy Zion Williamson? It’s tastier than a City Park donut in New Orleans.
7. vs. Clippers on Jan. 5
Ever since Denver burst the Clippers’ bubble in Orlando, there’s been a little extra juice between these two. Denver went 3-1 against Los Angeles last season, but without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the four-game roster. The first three are separated by a total of seven points. Consider last season the preamble. Now that both teams are healthy, could we watch a preview of the Western Conference Finals? (Honourable mention: Oct. 26 against the Lakers will be spicy, if for no other reason than LeBron’s visits to Denver are, we assume, down. There’s also a non-zero chance that Michael Malone is still simmering after giving up the regular-season finale to the Lakers, when Malik Monk and Austin Reaves torched Denver for 72 points).
6. vs. Philadelphia on March 27
Funny thing is, the media (*raises hand*) made this showdown bigger than it actually is. Sure, it’s fun to watch basketball’s two best big men go head-to-head on the court, but it’d be so much more intriguing if they had, you know, an ounce of disdain for each other. . Jokic has regularly praised Joel Embiid, while the 76ers star center has openly complimented the two-time MVP. Plus, there’s always the possibility that Bones Hyland will upstage them both, like he did in his emotional return to Philadelphia last season.
5. vs. Miami Dec. 30
Did someone say disdain? As in low kicks and shoulder shivers, hallway posturing and incendiary Twitter accounts? Markieff Morris is back in Denver! Let the boos rain down like the deluge that has drowned Denver for the past few days. Here’s to wondering how Morris felt when drafting the Heat from, wait for it, Nikola Jovic, a big rookie man from Serbia.
4. vs. Golden State on Feb. 2
It’s far too early to consider this a rivalry. The Nuggets were the hurdles the Warriors cleared last season — in five games — to advance through the NBA playoffs. Of course, it could be different with a healthy Murray and Michael Porter Jr.. The Nuggets could have the shot at facing Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole, and their theoretically improved defense could offer far more resistance than last April. But until another team eliminates them, the Warriors dynasty still reigns.
3. vs. Dallas on Dec. 6
It’s a shame for the Balkans that Jokic and Luka Doncic haven’t fought in the playoffs yet. Rather than any animosity, the two European wizards have such joy and genuine affection for each other that it’s inevitable that both guys will rise for this match. Similar to the Grizzlies, the Mavs are on the same trajectory as Denver, each sharpening their elbows West. Nobody would have been disappointed if it had been the last drink of Christmas.
2. vs. Phoenix on Dec. 25
Would a Nuggets win erase the humiliating 4-0 the Suns went two playoffs ago? Of course not. Would that presage a different outcome? Maybe. Murray is 15-3 in a career against the Suns, but it hasn’t been the same Phoenix team since the last time he was healthy. The Suns both reached the NBA Finals and were stung last season by a rising Dallas team. Hoping that both teams are complete.
1A. vs. Minnesota on January 18
How much do fans care about a team president exodus? Does it matter if it’s at a rival division? Does the fact that former Nuggets Austin Rivers and Bryn Forbes jumped ship for Minnesota move the needle? Nuggets fans definitely have some passion for supporting Jokic over Karl-Anthony Towns. They do the same with Rudy Gobert. Now throw similar-sized markets and similar ambitions, and there’s a nice cocktail of tension brewing ahead of Minnesota’s opener in Denver.
1B. vs. OKC on October 22
Jamal Murray game. If Jokic is Denver’s backbone, then Murray is its soul. The Nuggets open their season on the road in Utah, followed by a trip to Golden State. But on October 22, after a grueling 18-month recovery from ACL surgery, Murray is expected to be back home. No more flirting with a comeback or testing his left knee. Murray’s long road to recovery will finally reach a milestone: his first game back. Expect this night to be emotional. Not just for Murray, but also for Michael Porter Jr. He will be back after missing the majority of last season as well. Big bonus: Nikola Jokic will be awarded his second consecutive MVP. Ball Arena could well explode.
The full Nuggets schedule
|Wednesday||October 19||In Utah||7 p.m.|
|Friday||21st of October||In golden state||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday||October 22||Oklahoma City||7 p.m.|
|Monday||October 24||In Portland||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|Wednesday||October 26||LA Lakers||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday||October 28||Utah||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||October 30||At LA Lakers||6:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Thursday||November 3||In Oklahoma City||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|Saturday||November 5||San Antonio||7 p.m.|
|Monday||November 7||In San Antonio||8:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday||November 9||At Indiana||7 p.m.|
|Friday||November 11th||In Boston||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|Sunday||November 13||In Chicago||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||November 16||New York||8 p.m.|
|Friday||November 18||In Dallas||7:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||November 20||In Dallas||6:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday||November 22||Detroit||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||November 23||In Oklahoma City||7 p.m.|
|Friday||November 25||At LA Clippers||7:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Monday||November 28||Houston||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||November 30||Houston||7 p.m.|
|Friday||December 2||In Atlanta||7:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||December 4||In New Orleans||2:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday||December 6||dallas||8 p.m.||DTT|
|Thursday||December 8||In Portland||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|Saturday||December 10||Utah||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||December 14||Washington||7 p.m.|
|Friday||December 16||At LA Lakers||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday||December 18||Charlotte||6 p.m.|
|Tuesday||December 20||Memphis||8 p.m.||DTT|
|Friday||December 23||Portland||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||December 25th||Phoenix||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tuesday||December 27||In Sacramento||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||December 28||In Sacramento||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|Friday||December 30||Miami||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||January 1st||Boston||6 p.m.|
|Monday||January 2||In Minnesota||7 p.m.|
|Thursday||January 5||LA Clippers||8 p.m.||DTT|
|Friday||January 6||Cleveland||7 p.m.|
|Monday||January 9||LA Lakers||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||January 11||Phoenix||7 p.m.|
|Friday||January 13||At LA Clippers||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday||January 15||Orlando||6 p.m.|
|Tuesday||January 17||Portland||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||January 18||Minnesota||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday||January 20||Indiana||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||January 22||Oklahoma City||6 p.m.|
|Tuesday||January 24||In New Orleans||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||January 25||In Milwaukee||7 p.m.|
|Saturday||January 28||In Philadelphia||3 p.m.||ABC|
|Tuesday||January 31||New Orleans||8 p.m.||DTT|
|Thursday||February 2||golden state||7 p.m.|
|Saturday||February 4||Atlanta||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||February 5||In Minnesota||6 p.m.|
|Tuesday||February 7||Minnesota||8 p.m.||DTT|
|Thursday||February 9||In Orlando||7 p.m.|
|Saturday||February 11th||At Charlotte’s||7 p.m.|
|Monday||February 13||At Miami||7:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Wednesday||February 15||dallas||7 p.m.|
|Thursday||February 23||In Cleveland||7 p.m.|
|Saturday||February 25||In Memphis||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||February 26||LA Clippers||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tuesday||February 28||In Houston||7 p.m.|
|Friday||3rd of March||Memphis||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Monday||March 6||Toronto||7 p.m.|
|Wednesday||8 March||Chicago||7 p.m.|
|Friday||March 10||In San Antonio||7 p.m.|
|Sunday||12th of March||brooklyn||1:30 p.m.|
|Tuesday||March 14||In Toronto||7:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Thursday||March 16||In Detroit||7 p.m.|
|Saturday||March 18||At New York||1 p.m.|
|Sunday||March 19||In Brooklyn||3:30 p.m.|
|Wednesday||March 22||In Washington||7 p.m.|
|Saturday||March 25||Milwaukee||7 p.m.|
|Monday||March 27||philadelphia cream||7:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Thursday||March 30||New Orleans||8 p.m.||DTT|
|Friday||March, 31st||To Phoenix||7:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Sunday||April 2||golden state||6:30 p.m.||NBATV|
|Tuesday||April 4||In Houston||7 p.m.|
|Thursday||April 6||To Phoenix||7 p.m.||DTT|
|Saturday||April 8||In Utah||1:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||April 9||Sacramento||1:30 p.m.|