Yes, it’s disappointing the Denver Nuggets are down 0-2 in their series with the Phoenix Suns heading into tonight’s Game 3. But it’s no reason to be down on the Nuggets.
Enjoy tonight’s game because there is reason to celebrate. Regardless of the outcome of the series, tonight’s game against the Suns is special.
Tonight, Denver honors NBA MVP Nikola Jokic — the first in Nuggets history, and lowest drafted player ever, to win the award. This is, by far, the biggest accomplishment for the Nuggets in decades, if not ever.
Jokic’s emergence has change the culture and perception of the Nuggets. In the micro moment, it’s a bummer Denver is going to lose the series to Phoenix. The macro view, however, is the Nuggets are in a very good position to finally win a championship, if they have Jokic.
Not just an attraction to watch as the Nuggets lose, Jokic is an elite player who has turned Denver into legitimate winners. The Jokic-led Nuggets have now advanced to the second round of the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
To put that in perspective, that is more second-round appearances as a Nugget than Dikembe Mutombo and Carmelo Anthony combined.
Tim Connelly, Michael Malone and many players also deserve credit for the success of the Nuggets, but in the end, without Jokic, none of this comes close to happening.
Thus far the series with the Suns hasn’t been good, but Denver is without Jamal Murray (as well as P.J. Dozier), Will Barton is on a pitch count and Michael Porter Jr. is clearly not 100 percent. Phoenix is at full strength, and is a very good basketball team, so given the circumstances, it should be a shock the Nuggets are down 0-2.
It’s an achievement in itself the Nuggets advanced to the second round. Denver finished the season strong despite the multitude of injuries to Murray and others. Once the Nuggets made the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers looked primed to eliminate them.
That’s not what happened.
The Nuggets won the first round against a very capable Portland team, and they did it in six games. In Game 6, Jokic led the Nuggets to a big second-half comeback, after they trailed by double-digits on the road, to close out the series and advance.
Despite all the built-in excuses, the Nuggets continued to win and got themselves to the final four of a very stacked Western Conference.
It won’t happen this year. At some point, the loss of Jamal Murray is too much to overcome. However, Jokic proved his MVP status by continuing to propel his team to victories even as the path to the Finals became more and more bumpy.
The lack of competitive play in the first two games against the Suns is disappointing, but for the first time a Denver Nuggets player will be honored as the NBA’s MVP. Don’t let the 0-2 series deficit distract from that.
Jokic’s MVP award is the biggest accomplishment (team or individual) in Nuggets history. His presence on this team is a turning point for the franchise.
This moment is important.
The Nuggets might not win this series, but they are very close to an NBA championship. That day will come, but for now let’s enjoy the celebration of our MVP.
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