Denver Nuggets: Forecasting the Nuggets First 10 Games

Apr 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood (5) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) and center Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Will Barton (5) and guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood (5) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) and center Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Will Barton (5) and guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets start out with a rough schedule, and we will take a minutes and forecast how each game may go and how the Denver Nuggets might perform.

It is no secret that the Nuggets have a very tough schedule to begin the year. As a result, this begs the question, just how many games will Denver win at the beginning of the season? This is the key to Denver’s success as they will continue throughout the season.

There will be high hopes for Denver this upcoming season, and a strong start to a difficult schedule will immensely help this young core. After the first game against the Pelicans, the Nuggets have quite the difficult road, and we will take a second and check it out.

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Well, I am about to analyze the first 10 games and discuss the outcomes of each game. Without further ado, let’s begin with the first game.

Mar 31, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is defended by New Orleans Pelicans center Kendrick Perkins (5) during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ New Orleans

This game can really go either way.

The Pelicans will have a healthy Anthony Davis which could present problems for the Nuggets frontcourt. However, I have a hard time seeing the Pelicans frontcourt slowing down Mudiay and Harris who are starting to evolve into great guards.

Also, let’s not forget that Gallinari had a couple of his best games against New Orleans last year. He posted 21 points in one game and 34 points in another. While the Pelicans won the season series last year 2-1, the Nuggets are going to be very improved and they should show it against a Pelicans team who is still finding their identity.

My prediction is Denver prevails 99-91.

Apr 13, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) dribbles as Portland Trail Blazers guard Brian Roberts (2) defends and Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) screens during the 4th quarter at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

Portland @ Denver

Portland has had Denver’s number the last two years.

I can put my finger on it, but for some reason the Nuggets can’t solve the Blazer’s puzzle. Damian Lillard is a better point guard right now than Mudiay and McCollum is carrying momentum from winning Most Improved Player of the Year.

Many thought the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge would open up an opportunity for Denver to get a win in the series. However, Portland continued to slay the series last season against Denver. Unfortunately, I predict that the Nuggets will continue to have problems with the Trail Blazers.

The Nuggets will lost their first game by the score of 102-95.

Feb 1, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) controls the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the second quarter at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ Toronto

The Raptors are coming off a great season.

To top it off, they were able to retain DeMar Derozan who was also a part of the Olympic team along with teammate Kyle Lowry. Many Denver fans actually think Toronto’s team last year is reminiscent of the 2009 Nuggets teams that also made the Conference Finals.

A team with a duo of stars with a solid supporting cast? Sounds a lot like the 2009 Nuggets led by Billups and Anthony in my opinion. With this game also being in Toronto, the Nuggets are going to have a hard time finding their rhythm.

And let’s not overlook Carroll, who is a great defensive perimeter threat. He will most likely give Ill Will and Gallo some fits preventing them providing a scoring spark.

My prediction is that the Nuggets will fall to 1-2 in this game. They’ll fall to a final score of 100-92.

Jan 6, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) works for position as Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) defends him in the fourth quarter at Target Center. The Nuggets win 78-74. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ Minnesota

This will become a great match-up.

Both teams are in a rebuilding process and have a lot of great, young talent. While the Nuggets don’t possess young guns as glamorous and Wiggins or Anthony-Towns, they still have a core that will battle Minnesota to the very end.

A Wiggins and Gallinari should be a fun match-up to watch (I’m calling it now), and could result in a shootout that decides the final outcome in the end. However, Karl Anthony- Towns is being praised the next big thing for a reason, and in the end coupled with them being at home, the Timberwolves will prevail.

My prediction is the Nuggets will fall to 1-3 with a final score of 95-92.

Feb 10, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) makes a slam dunk during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Nuggets won 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ Detroit

This could shape up to be an intriguing game.

Both teams are youthful and have a strong front-court. Andre Drummond could present the Nuggets some challenges, however his free throw shooting down the stretch will become a burden for Detroit.

I could see the perimeter players for Denver suddenly igniting a run in the 4th quarter which would seal the Nuggets first win of the season against a playoff team. The Pistons are a quality team, but Denver may have just enough to capture their second win in their fifth game.

I predict that Denver improves to 2-3 with a final score of 105-102.

Feb 21, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Mike Miller (3) dribbles the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko (8) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Celtics defeated the Nuggets 121-101. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ Boston

This game will be a struggle.

With newly acquired Al Horford, the Celtics are going to be a tough match-up for any team this season. This coupled with an ever-improving Isiah Thomas will be difficult for the Nuggets to slow down.

Unfortunately, I think the Nuggets will suffer their first major blowout of the year against the Celtics. Much like Portland, the Celtics have gotten the best of Denver the last couple of years. Last year they swept the season series and the year before they split.

The Nuggets will fall to Boston by a final score of 114-88.

Mar 30, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) and forward Zach Randolph (50) and forward Matt Barnes (22) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at FedExForum. Denver Nuggets defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 102-89. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ Memphis

Memphis is a rugged, tough, defensive minded team.

It can be exhausting playing them due to their physicality. However, the front-court match-up between both teams will be extremely exciting. Memphis will have their infamous big men in Randolph and Marc Gasol back while the Nuggets will work Faried, Jokic, and Nurkic into the rotation somehow.

However, the Nuggets youth and inexperience may get the best of them against this veteran filled Grizzlies team. This is a game that Denver will need to pull out. They should be able to run the floor, and hopefully Denver can capture a quick win in Memphis.

The Nuggets will lose a thriller by a final score of 85-84 falling to 2-5 on the year.

Jan 13, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 112-110. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 13, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 112-110. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State @ Denver

It’s the one game we have been waiting for all year Nuggets Nation.

The chance to defeat our biggest out-of-division foes. The Nuggets will finally return to Pepsi Center after an exhausting road trip and be tested in every way imaginable.

However, I firmly believe that Denver will pass the test and channel their hatred for the Warriors into fierce grit and determination. The Nuggets showed Golden State last year they wouldn’t go down without a fight and this game will show the entire league that the Nuggets are to not be taken for granted anymore.

I think the Nuggets will take advantage of their front-court advantage inserting Nurkic and Jokic in at the same time toward the end and it will prevail in the end.

The Nuggets will beat the Warriors by a final score of 103-100 improving to 3-5. It could be a long shot, but hopefully Coach Malone and company will be able to pull this clutch victory out of their pocket.

Feb 10, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) celebrates with forward Danilo Gallinari (8) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Nuggets won 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit @ Denver

I already went over the Detroit matchup earlier.

However, something tells me Emmanuel Mudiay may show out this game. Reggie Jackson is a nice, solid point guard for Detroit, but he will start to show his age. As it seems, the Nuggets could run the court and find a way to defend Drummond. This is the reason that they may be able to find a quality victory.

On top of it, the home-court advantage the Mile High has with the altitude will gas the Pistons and before long, Denver will outrun them to a win.

The Nuggets will get their second win in a row winning 91-72.

Apr 13, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) holds the balls as Portland Trail Blazers guard Pat Connaughton (5) defends during the 4th quarter at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

Denver @ Portland

Portland is a very tough place to play.

That actually has been the case for many years. Portland has a great chance of winning the division this year and could run rough shod over Denver in this particular game. However, I think Denver will start to slowly solve Portland’s puzzle keeping the game close.

It won’t be enough in the end, but it will be a great confidence builder for the young Denver team. It is no shame to lose to this team. Damian Lillard and company should easily make their way back to the playoffs.

The Trail Blazers will take this one by a final score of 117-110.

Feb 10, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) celebrates with guard Gary Harris (14) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Nuggets won 103-92. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Conclusion

In the end, the Nuggets will start the season 4-6. I would like to give an optimistic prediction, but the realist in me tells me that it will be a rocky start.

If one takes a look at the first 10 games, the Nuggets have to play 8 playoff teams from last season with 6 games on the road. That’s quite a tall task for a lottery team. Don’t get me wrong though, I think the Vegas prediction of 34.5 games is ludicrous.

I think the team will finish around .500, but have a rough start to the season. I would love say the Gallo will be an All-Star, Murray will win Rookie of the Year, we will win the Finals, and Harris will be Finals MVP, but every Nuggets fan knows this isn’t realistic this year.


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To end this piece on a more positive note, despite the hard first 10 games, I still believe the Nuggets could make the playoffs.

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