DROP THE MIKE

Two Nuggets can’t afford to be subpar in monster game with Suns

May 9, 2023, 6:40 AM | Updated: May 10, 2023, 5:59 pm

Four games into this series with the Suns and a bunch of juicy storylines. So here we go:

• The NBA got it sort of right with their handling of “L’affaire Ishiba.” Nikola Jokic did at least need to be fined. Ever since the “Malice at the Palace,” the NBA has been super sensitive to the idea of players going after fans. Heck, even baseball is getting into the act with the four-game suspension handed down to Anthony Rendon for taking a swing at an abusive fan. With the precedent set, Jokic had to be punished in some way. I’m just glad the powers that be understood a suspension would’ve been over the top.

• Now, where’s the punishment for Mat Ishbia? I’m glad the former towel boy – errrr, walk-on and key contributor to Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans – understood what a clown he looked like cradling the ball and playing keep away from Jokic. I’m pleasantly surprised that becoming an overnight billionaire (Thanks, dad!) didn’t cause him to forget some basic competitive instincts that screamed what he did was stupid. Ishbia calling for leniency on behalf of Jokic was the proper move.

• Why didn’t the league punish Ish? Talk about setting a precedent. Now, any high-powered NBA executive can try and impact the game with total impunity? Come to think of it, this could be perfect for Josh Kroenke to stoke those old Mizzou competitive fires. Lets get Josh courtside for Game 5 and see what mischief he can cause!

• Can we talk hoops? It’s pretty easy to dissect these first four games. The duos of Kevin Durant/Devin Booker and Nikola Jokic/Jamal Murray are playing to an exhilarating draw. It’s all about the supporting casts. In Games 1 and 2, Aaron Gordon averaged 20.0 points per game and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope poured in 12.0. In Games 3 and 4 in Phoenix, AG went for 10 points per game and KCP 6.0. In the Nuggets’ wins here in Denver, the bench outscored the Suns’ subs 36-28. In the Nugs’ losses in the desert, Denver’s bench was outscored 62-31, including a whopping 40-11 in Game 4.

• The good news is that typically role players play better at home and since the Nuggets have two of the next three at Ball Arena, they should – emphasis on should – get the better help for their stars.

• Michael Porter, Jr. is quickly becoming one of Denver’s most polarizing athletes, isn’t he? While some see current super stardom and, ahem, a Hall of Fame future, I see a maddeningly frustrating tease. The potential is obvious. But as I learned covering the great Bill Parcells back in the day (can you tell why I’m soooo excited Sean Payton??!!) “The bus stop is full of guys with potential.” MPJ has made strides this season for sure. I just don’t see the consistency the Nuggets will need to get from him and/or Aaron Gordon to win an NBA title this year.

• Make mine Nuggets in seven!

***

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Two Nuggets can’t afford to be subpar in monster game with Suns