Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets have had ample time to shake off the rust.
Now, as the saying goes, it’s time for Mile High Basketball to get to work.
After the NBA’s eight seeding games, the Nuggets are the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Denver will face the rival Utah Jazz in the first round. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is set to tip at 11:30 a.m. MST on Monday. So the playoffs will have a March Madness feel.
Let the NBA playoffs begin.
Since Colo sports betting launched in May, this is the first opportunity for fans to wager on the Nuggets in the playoffs.
Nuggets vs. Jazz schedule
Here’s a look at the series schedule:
|Nuggets vs Jazz playoff schedule||Time (MST)||Date||TV||Radio|
|Game One||11:30 a.m.||Monday, Aug. 17||ESPN/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
|Game Two||2 p.m||Wednesday, Aug. 19||TNT/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
|Game Three||2 p.m.||Friday, Aug. 21||TNT/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
|Game Four||7 p.m.||Sunday, Aug. 23||TNT/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
|Game Five (if necessary)||TBD||TBD||TBD/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
|Game Six (if necessary)||TBD||TBD||ESPN/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
|Game Seven (if necessary)||TBD||TBD||TNT/Altitude TV||Altitude Radio|
The good news about the schedule? No back-to-back games.
So Denver will have at least a day to regroup, win or lose. That could help on a long playoff run when it can become a grind both mentally and physically.
For those who have day jobs and still have to head to the office, this schedule does you no favors. There is only one game that will tip at night.
The other factor to keep in mind is these two teams know each other well. Since they both play in the Northwest Division, they played each other three times this season. In fact, they played perhaps the most exciting game in the bubble, with the Nuggets winning 134-132 in double overtime.
That record means nothing in this playoff series, but there won’t be any surprises either.
Nuggets vs. Jazz odds
Here’s a look at the available odds, as of Monday morning:
|Nuggets vs Jazz odds||BetMGM||DraftKings||FanDuel|
|Series winner||Nuggets -278|
|Series correct score||Nuggets 4-0 +600|
Nuggets 4-1 +400
Nuggets 4-2 +400
Nuggets 4-3 +400
Jazz 4-0 +2,300
Jazz 4-1 +1,100
Jazz 4-2 +700
Jazz 4-3 +600
|Nuggets 4-0 +650|
Nuggets 4-1 +350
Nuggets 4-2 +350
Nuggets 4-3 +350
Jazz 4-0 +4,000
Jazz 4-1 +1,600
Jazz 4-2 +700
Jazz 4-3 +600
|Nuggets 4-0 +460
Nuggets 4-1 +300
Nuggets 4-2 +340
Nuggets 4-3 +480
Jazz 4-0 +3,600
Jazz 4-1 +1,400
Jazz 4-2 +850
Jazz 4-3 +650
As is the case with all of 2020, this isn’t your typical NBA playoff.
While Denver has the higher seed, it won’t have the “home-court” and altitude advantage it typically would at the Pepsi Center.
All the games will take place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Despite that, Denver remains the favorite to win the series against the Jazz at BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks.
Game 1 odds
All three Colorado sportsbook apps also have the Nuggets favored in Game 1.
|Nuggets vs Jazz Game One odds||BetMGM||DraftKings||FanDuel|
|Point spread||Nuggets -4.5 -110|
Jazz +4.5 -110
|Nuggets -5 -108|
Jazz +5 -113
|Nuggets -5 -105
Jazz +5 -115
|Total points scored||Over 215.5 -110|
Under 215.5 -110
|Over 215.5 -112|
Under 215.5 -109
|Over 216 -110
Under 216 -110
Can Denver make a deep run?
Much like the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nuggets bring experience to the court.
While Denver is still a young team, it has playoff experience. It knows how to win games at this point in the season, but also how to lose games. Of course, the NBA playoffs have never taken place in August, so who knows what is in store?
But experience matters, especially come playoff time.
As for motivation, the Nuggets don’t have to look hard to find it.
The last time Denver was in the playoffs, everyone thought Jokic, Jamal Murray and Co. were poised for a deep run. Then it came to an abrupt and painful end with a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in seven games, with Game 7 in Denver.
The Nuggets will want to get that sour taste out of their mouth, even it has been over a year since that took place.
For Denver to contend in the West, it has to play great defense and rebound. That sets the tone for a basketball team, regardless of the level of play.
The other factor is offensive consistency.
Whether it’s Utah or LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver can ill afford empty possessions. That means limiting the turnovers, bad decisions and missed free throws.
If the Nuggets do the little things well, they’ll beat the Jazz.
When teams focus on the little things, the bigger things come naturally.
This is just the start. #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/HZ9bJnLdPb
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) August 15, 2020
Of course, as the Nuggets’ team website highlights, the X-factor is Michael Porter Jr.
If he’s able to play as he did in the bubble, that opens the court for the likes of Jokic and Murray, who don’t need much space to begin with.
As that story highlights:
“In the seven seeding games that he played in, Porter Jr. averaged 22 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 33.3 minutes per game. The rookie forward dropped these impressive scoring numbers on elite efficiency, as he posted a 69.5 true shooting percentage and shot 42.2 percent from beyond the arc.”
A third offensive threat has been what Denver has been looking for since the days of Carmelo Anthony.
If Porter Jr. is able to continue that level of play, on top of what you know Jokic and Murray will bring, the opportunity is there for the Nuggets to strike it rich in the NBA playoffs.