At the time of this writing, the Denver Nuggets have fallen into a tie for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers. The two teams play each other for the last time on Tuesday in Portland and with the season coming to an end in the very near future, the game obviously has more implications than normal.
Everyone knew this Nuggets team would have an up and down year, as the well-documented young roster would need time to develop, but it has been frustrating, to say the least. The Nuggets have shown flashes of awe-inspiring play throughout the year, having stretches of consecutive wins and playing tough against some of the best teams in the NBA only to lose games to the Lakers, Nets, and 76ers throughout the year. Each time the team plays a stretch of games that instills confidence among fans, they’ll have a stinker at home to immediately bring fans back down to Earth and remind them that this team still has a long way to go. For almost every Jokic no-look pass, almost every Murray arrow, and almost every Faried putback dunk, there are games like the one in Denver on Sunday night that bring it all back into perspective. Yes, even the best teams in the NBA have off shooting nights, but the difference between making the playoffs and being in the lottery is consistency and the Nuggets don’t have it.
The Nuggets have shown the ability to compete with the best teams in the NBA, but if they want to make the playoffs and gain that valuable experience they will have to look deep within themselves and learn to bring that same energy and tenacity every single night regardless of the opponent. The Nuggets remaining schedule is arguably much harder than Portland’s, but at no point this season has Denver taken the easy path to get to where they are. The Nuggets need to come together for their last 9 games of the season, and make this something to build upon for next year.