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


Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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!


Drop the Mike

Nikola Jokic...

Mike Evans

Right here, right now: It’s finally the Nuggets time to shine

Denver has grown up right before our eyes, as the Nuggets have morphed into a championship-caliber team during the playoffs

6 days ago

Nikola Jokic...

Mike Evans

Could the Denver Nuggets turn into the NBA’s next dynasty?

The deck was stacked against the San Antonio Spurs, as well, but with a model very similar to the Nuggets, the Spurs hoisted five trophies

12 days ago

Jamal Murray...

Mike Evans

Nuggets ace championship test in monster Game 2 victory

On a night when they weren't supposed to win, Denver overcame everything being stacked against them to show they're a title-worthy team

19 days ago

Gabriel Landeskog Valeri Nichushkin...

Mike Evans

The Avalanche face huge uncertainty heading into offseason

With two key players becoming huge question marks and a farm system that hasn't produced of late, Colorado might become a one-hit wonder

27 days ago

Nathan MacKinnon...

Mike Evans

As another playoff run starts, the Avs appear poised to defend their Cup

The are five big reasons why Colorado can make another deep playoff run this season, giving them a legit chance to hoist back-to-back Cups

2 months ago

Erik Johnson Cale Makar...

Mike Evans

There’s nothing left for the Avs to accomplish (in the regular season)

With a "big" game looming against the Wild, there's no need to worry about anything that happens between now and the start of the postseason

2 months ago

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