Any athlete will tell you that records are there to be broken and Denver Nuggets fans will be hoping their team can finally break a record that sees them still without a championship in their entire history. Even before the Denver Rockets became the Denver Nuggets, the team has struggled to find success, all this despite making the playoffs 28 times out of the 47 seasons they’ve been in the NBA.
The closest the Nuggets ever got to a trophy was back in 1976, when they lost to the New York Nets in the American Basketball Association (ABA) finals. Since then, the closest they’ve come was 4 defeats in the Western Conference Finals, the last of which was in 2020.
The Nuggets have made the playoffs for the last four years and are currently sitting top of the Western Conference, their fans have every right to be excited. Can they go all the way and finally bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy?
For the first time this season, the Nuggets suffered defeat despite a triple-double from star Center Jokic, after a 128-120 loss to the Spurs. The previous 25 times the Serbian had managed the feat, the Nuggets had gone on to win, but recent form has seen their four-game winning streak broken by disappointing defeats to the Bulls and San Antonio.
With such a healthy lead at the top of the Western Conference, Nugget fans won’t be panicking, but with the playoffs beckoning, Denver can’t afford any more slip-ups if they’re to be considered serious championship contenders. The latest NBA finals odds have seen them slip down the rankings, with Celtics, Suns and Bucks now marginally ahead of them.
The MVP award may have undergone a name change, with the NBA renaming it the Michael Jordan Trophy, but the name of the winner looks set to remain unchanged. The 28-year-old Serbian has been in impressive form all season and is the current favourite to take the coveted award, with Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid, also in contention.
If he succeeds, “The Joker” will become only the fourth player in NBA history to win three consecutive MVP awards, putting him in elite company alongside Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird. Jokic has led the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists on 99 occasions over his eight-season career, which is the most times in NBA history a center has accomplished that feat.
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Jokic’s form and class will be crucial for the Nuggets if they are to have any hope of making it to the finals.
The point guard’s talent is not in doubt and the Nuggets will need a fit and in form Murray heading into the playoffs, but April 12, 2021 still looms large in Denver fans memories. In the dying minutes of the game against the Golden State Warriors in front of packed house, Murray was left writhing in pain on the court after tearing his ACL.
Their have been glimpses of his brilliant best this season, including a 129-113 victory over the Houston Rockets back in November, as he shot 11-of-17 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Murray also recorded five assists and dropped 31 points. More recently he starred in a 122-109 win over the Lakers in January, netting a season-high 34 points to lead all scorers in the game and prove that he’s getting ever closer to the form he was showing pre his ACL injury.
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The stats suggest Murray is slowly rediscovering his level despite injury niggles hampering his progress, and there’s no denying that when the point guard is on form, the Nuggets usually win. If he can stay healthy, Murray could well be the key to Denver’s postseason dreams.
The Celtics reached the finals last year and they look like a team that is motivated to put that defeat to bed and finally claim a record breaking 18th NBA title. Most of that roster remains intact with Malcolm Brogdon and Muscala joining a strong bench unit alongside Derrick White and Grant Williams.
Despite Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Robert Williams, missing large periods through injury, they still look impressive. The acquisition of Mike Muscala from the Oklahoma City Thunder has reinforced an already dominant team.
Any team with Giannis Antetokounmpo is a threat, and despite a recent wrist injury to their star player, the Bucks form has been impressive. With Jevon Carter, Grayson Allen, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez all stepping up, the Bucks will be hard to beat, especially if Antetokounmpo can stay fit.
The Suns made one of the biggest trades in the league’s history by acquiring two time NBA winner Kevin Durant and he looks a great fit alongside Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Questions remain about their depth, with but with Durant on board, they have the quality and experience to go all the way.
Denver Nuggets, 2023 NBA Champions?
Competition is fierce and history weighs heavy on their shoulders, but this Nuggets team has the quality to go all the way and win their first-ever Championship.
After the Nuggets win over the Cavaliers back in January, Nikola Jokić was asked if his team could go all the way this time. His answer sums up their chances perfectly:
“Yes, probably yes, but you never know.”