Nuggets 109 – Bucks 95
Game Notes by Brady Hull
It’s been a strange month for the Denver Nuggets so it made perfect sense that a Monday night game between the best team (record) in the NBA would be just as strange. Antetokoumpo played but not THAT Antetokoumpo, carries were called in an actual NBA game and we witnessed some of the strangest defense I’ve seen all year by Milwaukee. Strange indeed but the Nuggets grabbed win #43 and that was absolutely huge for a team with several questions down the stretch. My 4 biggest takeaways from Monday night…..
- Let him shoot?: Paul Millsap had 20 points against the Bucks thanks in part to mind boggling defense on a PF that has proven he can shoot the 3. Time after time Milwaukee simply let Millsap wander out too 3 point land and refused to close out. The vet made them pay early going 3/6 from downtown. Unsure if not having their star in the lineup affected their entire flow but either way, the NBA’s best team didn’t show much interest in playing defense.
- The Joker still passive after the All-Star Break: Nikola Jokic carried Denver when they were at their most vulnerable. When several injuries ravaged the Nuggets lineup back in February, Jokic put this team on his back and kept them in the thick of things in the Western Conference standings. However, post all-star break it seems like the Joker is back to a passive style of play we’ve witnessed off and on through the years. Against Cleveland he went 4/11 while going 4/13 against the Bucks. If Denver wants to make a legitimate run at the title they need their all-star to crank up the aggressiveness.
- The Blue Arrow: Jamal Murray stepped up his game in a big way for the Nuggets grabbing 21 points and 6 assists. After a monster jam that was called an offensive foul, Murray was invigorated the rest of the way helping Denver earn a much needed victory. When Murray takes control, typically good things happen. When he pulls out the Blue Arrow signal, REALLY good things happen.
- MPJ looks lost: The crowd gave Michael Porter Jr. a nice ovation when he was inserted into the lineup but his defensive play proved once again why fans aren’t seeing the young prospect on a nightly basis. He was getting beat off the dribble at times while others saw him simply WAY out of position. For a team trying to reestablish a defensive identity, playing MPJ is a huge liability. Until he can play better defense, I wouldn’t get your hopes up when it comes to more minutes for Porter.