The Nuggets were the best team in the Western Conference this season, and it wasn’t even close. They proved that at full strength, they could go against any single team on Earth, especially given their homecourt advantage in the heights of Colorado.
But even despite all that, they’re still not the oddsmakers’ favorites to go the distance and win the NBA Championship. As you can see in ClutchBet, they’re not even ranked ahead of fellow Western Conference woes like the Phoenix Suns or Golden State Warriors.
Nuggets Need to Make a Statement
For the first time ever, the Denver Nuggets finished the season as the top seed in the Western Conference. That speaks volumes of their dominance, as not even great players like Alex English, Dan Issel, or even Carmelo Anthony could pull that off when they were in their prime.
And while most of the attention will go to reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, coach Mike Malone deserves plenty of flowers and praise. He’s pushed his team to the limit, and he knows they can be better after closing out the season on a low note:
Maybe I’m just wired a little differently, man, I’m (ticked) off right nowMike Malone
Malone said ahead of the first round of the playoffs.
The moment you think that losing is OK, it’s just another game that starts to seep into who you are, the essence of who you are. And I heard a long time ago there are two types of people, those who like to win and those who hate to loseMike Malone
The Nuggets have done an outstanding job of silencing their doubters since the start of the season, but they still have plenty of work ahead of them to prove that they’re not just another incredible regular-season team that crumbles under pressure in the playoffs.
Jokic’s Legacy Is on the Line
For years, NBA fans and even current and former players have debated whether Nikola Jokic should be the MVP. And even though he almost became the first center to average a triple-double for a season, some still doubt he’s as good as advertised.
They’ve called him a choker, a poor defender, and a stat padder. But the Joker continues to put on a show every time he sets foot on the hardwood, proving to be the most remarkable passing big man this beautiful game has ever seen.
Then again, none of that will matter if this team doesn’t make it at least to the NBA Finals this season. That’ll only fuel the debate about him not being worthy of the MVP, and that’s a narrative he might not be able to come back from, even if he claims he doesn’t care about that.
Jokic is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player. His unique skill set makes him one of the few unicorns of this game. And he’s finally got a solid supporting cast at full strength, so there’s no more room for excuses.
The Nuggets will face either the Oklahoma City Thunder or New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs, and they’ll need to be 100% locked in to get the job done and leave no room for more doubts or skepticism. This team is for real, and they’ll prove it.