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Denver Nuggets Betting Outlook
Western Conference Odds: +800
Preseason NBA Championship Odds: +1800
The Denver Nuggets continue to grow up and are full-blown title contenders after advancing to the Western Conference Finals.Denver upset the LA Clippers in a memorable seven-game series before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, but they showed they are a team to be reckoned with going forward.
After that kind of success, the Nuggets didn’t do much tinkering, though they lost a couple of key pieces up front with Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee leaving. But the main components are back, led by stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Both can fill up the scorebook and came through with clutch performances time and again in the Nuggets’ postseason run.
Denver has a solid supporting cast as well, with Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr., Will Barton and Monte Morris all back in the fold. The biggest question for Denver will be how it will play as a hunted team rather than a hunter.
Nuggets 2021 Predictions
Regular Season Record: 51-21
Conference Standing: Third
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Denver Nuggets Team Leaders
Jamal Murray may not have the triple-doubles of his teammate, but he was the emotional leader for the Nuggets and had some fantastic performances in the team’s back-to-back rallies from 3-1 series deficits against Utah and the Clippers. Murray has had a few injuries over the years, but the 23-year-old always seems to be on the court when the Nuggets need him. Look for him to take another step forward and contend for an All-Star appearance.
Nikola Jovic is not particularly flashy, except for his outstanding passing ability, but he can do nearly everything. A ball-handling big man who can hit from 3-point range but also has a full collection of low-post moves, Jokic can dominate from nearly anywhere.The 25-year-old center continues to improve but needs to avoid foul trouble in big games.
Denver Nuggets Team History
The Denver Nuggets were one of the original teams in the old American Basketball Association, which came into existence in 1967.The team was originally the Denver Larks but changed its name to the Rockets prior to the ABA’s first season.
Rookie Spencer Haywood was a big name in the early days of the franchise, becoming one of the first players to leave college for the pros early. Haywood won the ABA’s MVP award, the Rookie of the Year award and All-Star Game MVP in the 1969-70 season, leading Denver to a division title and the second round of the playoffs in his only season with the team.
The team changed its name again in 1974 in anticipation of the merger with the NBA, which already had the Houston Rockets. So the franchise became the Denver Nuggets, as they are known today.
The team also made some personnel changes, drafting David Thompson, adding Bobby Jones and Dan Issel, and hiring Larry Brown as head coach. The Nuggets were 65-16 during the 1974-75 regular season but didn’t advance far in the postseason. The next season, however, they made it to the ABA Finals, where they fell to the New York Nets.
In 1976, the ABA and the NBA merged, with four teams from the ABA moving into the NBA, including the Nuggets. Denver was successful in the regular season in its first few years in the NBA, winning two straight division titles, but playoff success was hard to come by.
In the 1980s, the team was known more for its high-scoring style, with Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe leading the way, averaging more than 25 points a game apiece. The Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference finals for the second time in 1985, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers.
With lots of scoring but little success, Denver made a significant draft pick in 1991, taking Georgetown center Dikembe Mutombo. Alongside fellow draft picks LaPhonso Ellis and Bryant Stith, Mutombo powered the new Nuggets, who made NBA history by becoming the first No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed, taking down the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994.
Unfortunately, it was the most significant playoff success for the Nuggets until the 2000s, when coach George Karl and forward Carmelo Anthony made Denver a perennial playoff team. Anthony and Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets to their third Western Conference Finals appearance in 2009, again falling to the Lakers in the series.
That was part of 10 straight playoff appearances, but the only year that the Nuggets actually won a playoff series. That run ended in 2013, and Denver failed to make the playoffs again until the 2018-19 season under coach Michael Malone and powered by young stars Murray and Jokic. The Nuggets defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the first round but fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals.
The Nuggets have featured nine players and three coaches who have gone on to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, including Issel, Jones, Thompson, Mutombo, English and Allen Iverson.
The Nuggets entered the 2019-20 campaign with lots of optimism after advancing to the Western Conference semifinals in the 2019 playoffs. The team got off to a fast start, going 13-3.
Denver was among the top three teams in the Western Conference and had a 43-22 record when the NBA had to pause play due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Nuggets finished the regular season with a 4-4 record in the Orlando bubble.
The third-seeded Nuggets started the postseason with a first-round series with the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz, which turned into an individual shootout between Murray and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell averaged 36.3 points and helped Utah take a 3-1 series advantage, but Murray had 42 points in an elimination Game 5 and 50 in do-or-die Game 6 to help force a deciding Game 7.
Denver pulled out the Game 7 victory to complete the comeback and move on to face the second-seeded LA Clippers. The Nuggets would once again fall behind 3-1 in the series against the Clippers and trailed by 15 in the second half of Game 5. But the team again rallied, taking the final three games over the heavily favored Clippers to advance to the Western Conference finals for the fourth time in team history.
Unfortunately, just like the previous two appearances in the conference finals, the Nuggets faced the Los Angeles Lakers, and once again, they fell, with the top-seeded Lakers winning the series in five games.
Michael Malone will be entering his sixth season as the Denver Nuggets head coach in 2020-21. Malone had previously been the head coach with the Sacramento Kings for a little more than a season.
The son of long-time NBA assistant coach Brendan Malone, the younger Malone spent nearly two decades as a high school and college assistant before getting his first NBA assistant coaching gig in 2001 with the New York Knicks. After stints as an assistant with the Knicks, Cavaliers, Hornets and Warriors, Malone was named the head coach of Sacramento prior to the 2013-14 campaign.
The Kings finished 28-54 in Malone’s first season, then got off to an 11-13 start in 2014-15 when Malone was fired. It didn’t take him long to get another head coaching job, as he was hired by Denver prior to the 2015-16 campaign.
Denver didn’t make the playoffs in Malone’s first three seasons but did improve on their win total each season.The Nuggets made the postseason in 2018-19, advancing to the conference semifinals, then improved on that with last season’s run to the Western Conference finals. In six-plus seasons as a head coach, Malone has a 258-249 record in the regular season.
JaMychal Green, forward, LA Clippers
Jerami Grant, forward, Detroit Pistons
Mason Plumlee, center, Detroit Pistons
Torrey Craig, guard, Milwaukee Bucks
RJ Hampton, guard, New Zealand Breakers
Markus Howard, guard, Marquette
Zeke Nnaji, center, Arizona
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