Nuggets have been hurt by the refs more than any other team in basketball
In each of the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons Nikola Jokic actually hit more shots from the field than frequent MVP runner-up Joel Embiid.
But Embiid has scored more points per game than the back-to-back MVP in every season the two have played. How is this possible? Free throws. Embiid gets to the stripe over twice as much as a Jokic despite each being banging seven-footers who work from the post.
Now it’s not fair to the NBA referees to say Jokic is getting jobbed across the board but something is off here. And those oddities have been backed by official NBA numbers in their Last Two Minute Report. The L2M ” is a play-by-play report regarding all calls and material non-calls in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or the last two minutes of any overtime period for all matches that are one-possession games at any point in the final 120 seconds of play. The reports began in March of 2015 and allow all basketball lovers a chance to see if the refs really got those game-deciding calls right.
In the case of the Denver Nuggets, those big calls were more likely to go to the opponents than any other team in the league. The following image embedded via Twitter shows that the Nuggets followed by Jazz and Backs are the three teams hurt more by the refs since 2015 than their peers.
Here is a summary of all-time L2M reports (since 2015). The Nuggets, Jazz, Bucks, and Cavs are the teams that are most "hurt" by refs in the L2M. pic.twitter.com/mLUj9ASL6d
— Daniel Bratulić (@daniel_bratulic) February 2, 2023
So for the entire Michael Malone/Jokic era, the Nuggets have seen 50 more wrong calls go against them than for them, as designated by the league itself.
The 224 errors in total going against the Nuggets nearly laps the second-place Mavericks at 200, who are only six calls worse than the Knicks. Of course, Dallas and New York also benefited from the same amount or more wrong calls than the Nuggets have.
The compiled reports are through last Thursday and is something to keep in mind as the best-in-the-west Nuggets approach their fifth-straight trip to the postseason. At least, it should be in the back of the minds of every Denver fan in a tight game that the league may justify you the morning after a bad playoff call but won’t be able to change the outcome.