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Denver Nuggets film review by Nuggets beat reporter and basketball guru Adam Mares.

Bones Hyland closed the game at the point guard spot for the Denver Nuggets in the second night of a back-to-back against the Sacramento Kings. For the most part, he got the ball where it needed to go. Watch all possessions over the final 6 minutes and let us know what you think about his clutch time offense. Also in…

1. Nikola Jokic's between-the-legs pass might be the pass of the year for the Denver Nuggets. What makes it better is that the pass was actually a counter to the way the Memphis Grizzlies were defending one of Denver's most common actions.

In the clip below, you can see how the Grizzlies aggressive denial of the reversal triggered Jokic to become the release valve every time the team ran that play in the first half. In the second half, Brown perfectly timed the "blind pig" action. Perfectly enough for Jokic to just hike the ball in stride to Brown for the easy dunk.

https://youtu.be/M9ImqsAvUMQ

2. Jokic is a wizard at waiting until the last second to make his read as a passer. In the clips below, you can see how the flare screen to the corner is the first read for Jokic. But by waiting until the last possible second, Jokic is actually luring the defender away from his preferred option which is the dropoff pass to the screener.

https://youtu.be/iRJOXg3fV-Y

3. I like that Christian Braun isn't just settling for spot-up jumpers when he's sharing the court with the starting unit. Braun is shooting just 31% from behind the arc this season, a number that needs to improve in order for him to become a reliable two-way option for the Nuggets. But even if he becomes a more steady three-point shooter, mixing in cuts like the one below that get him attacking the basket is still a valuable option.

Braun is big for a wing and has a 40-inch vertical. We haven't seen him fully deploy his athleticism in the NBA just yet but I like that he is looking for options where he is going towards the rim and not always flaring to the corner.

https://youtu.be/KIwfEJiutkA

4. Another great cut. Watch how Brown flares and then cuts off of the Gordon screen, forcing Dillon Brooks to take the furthest possible angle. That cut, paired with a perfectly timed entry pass, forces the favorable switch.

https://youtu.be/GypiYO4jcjY

5. Another important skill for Christian Braun will be his ability to knockdown dribble handoff and pick-and-roll three-pointers when the defense goes under the screen.

https://youtu.be/EOpsBmT8EFU

6. Here is Braun quickly falling back into Denver's free flow rhythm after an offensive rebound and taking an aggressive left-handed drive to the rim. Braun has the foundation of a solid offensive option. A decent three-point shot, the ability to handle the ball in basic actions, and the right amount of aggressiveness for a 5th option.

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1. If there is one reason to have faith in the Denver Nuggets championship aspirations this season it is the perfect synergy of the Nikola Jokic - Jamal Murray two man game. The duo took a 500 day hiatus yet picked up immediately where they left off as if they never stopped playing. The two of them are so perfectly in sync at all times, especially at the close of each half when the other three players seem content to get out of the way and watch as the two dance back and forth en route to the exact outcome that they seem fit. The term pick your poison seems to undersell the conundrum presented by those. Often times, the duo will gladly make that choice for you.

https://youtu.be/Xev9bufPT58

2. One of my favorite things about Jokic is that he has a counter for every read the defense makes. Here, rookie Walker Kessler clearly studied his scouting report to note that these rub screens send Jokic to one of his favorite spots on the left block. But Jokic sees him jump the action and decides to pop out to the three point line, taking advantage of Kessler's early work.

After the game, Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy said of Kessler, "Walker came to the bench at one point and said like 'I'm trying really hard.' I said, 'Dude, I get it. You are trying really hard. And keep trying hard. This is part of your growth."

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1. “Peel Sting” is one of Denver’s go-to isolation plays for their power forwards and one of the most common set plays in Michael Malone’s playbook. The play starts with a 1-4 ball screen that usually forces a switch before leading to a mid or low post touch for the “4” to attack a mismatch. Here are several examples from…

1. Perhaps the best of Peyton Watson’s skills as a prospect is his cat-like reflexes. He is lightning quick in moments when he is tasked with reacting to a pass or rebound. In the clips below, watch how quickly he pounces once he sees the trajectory of the ball. https://youtu.be/wxVXc7r01v8 He actually has a lot of room for improvement as…

1. Perhaps the trait that popped the most from Christian Braun in his NBA Summer League debut was how quickly he transitions from defense to sprinting on the fast break. He’s a fast sprinter but more impressive is how there is no lag time between when he sees that the defensive rebound has been secured and when he first hits…...

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1. Game 4 was far and away the most locked in the Nuggets have been on the defensive end of the court all season. https://youtu.be/OxBmXysWrzI 2. Part of game plan discipline is knowing how to change the emphasis based on who is on the court. When Gary Payton III is on the court, the Nuggets have to be willing pack the…...

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1. The Golden State Warriors might beat the Denver Nuggets even if the Nuggets find a way to lock in defensively for 48 minutes. But we wouldn’t know it from game one. We’ll get into the long list of challenges that the Warriors present in the ensuing numbers on this list but number one has to be that the team just…...

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1. The first battle will be about getting the ball to Jokic in the post. Draymond does a great job of leaning on Jokic walling off his angles. Lazy passes will result in turnovers. Even good passes will have to be on point to help Jokic hold deep post position. https://youtu.be/kk0KOSyTWTc 2. Jokic took a lot of faceup jump shots…...

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1. One of the big improvements to Nikola Jokic’s game over the last few seasons has been his comfort level attacking the basket off of the dribble. He shot 68.4% on 1.8 field goal attempts off of drives this season, by far the best mark among players with at least 1.8 attempts per game. Most of Jokic’s drives come off…...

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1. Perhaps the most significant weapon in Bones Hyland’s arsenal is his confidence and ability to take deep threes. Bones was elite at this skill in his two seasons in college and that skill has translated nicely in his rookie season in the NBA where he routinely took threes from 2-5 feet from behind the arc. He even occasionally ventured…...

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1. I’ll stop short of a full on conspiracy theory but…upon rewatch, it sure appeared as though Joel Embiid spent several possessions early on trying to keep Jokic from scoring at the expense of allowing some wide open shots for other Nuggets players. No PnR coverage calls for Embiid to jump away from the ball handler on a basic ball…...

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1. Here is a great example of how each of the players in Denver’s new-look second unit fit together so nicely. It’s also a great example of one of a point I always harp on: it’s not always the openness of a three-point shot, but the rhythm of that show. JaMychal Green is open but it’s the bright green light created…

1. The Denver Nuggets have ranked in the lower half of the NBA in terms of field goal attempts off of screens in each of the last five seasons. The team’s identity is to play through Nikola Jokic out of the post, elbow, and off of pick-and-rolls (PnRs) and dribble handoffs (DHOs) and with Jamal Murray as the primary shooter,…...

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1. I really love the Reed-Hyland combination, primarily for the fact that you combine two players with “sneaky wingspans.” It’s well documented that the league is skewing longer on the perimeter but often times that is thought of merely as “taller.” But wingspan and reach may be just as important as height and “sneaky wingspan” may be even more valuable…...

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1. “I love to play with him.” That’s what the reigning MVP said about JaMychal Green when asked about playing alongside him in the starting lineup over the last two games. You can see a certain chemistry between those two on the court. More importantly, you can see a certain skillset that JMyke brings that is unique to the Nuggets’…...

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1. I’ve been harping on the Nuggets coaching staff giving Nikola Jokic the Facu-Rivers backcourt for the last several weeks. That trio somehow manages just a 93.9 offensive rating in 95 minutes so far this season, an unfathomably low mark for a lineup featuring the reigning MVP and one of the most dynamic offensive engines in the league today. It…...

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Harrison Wind and Adam Mares breakdown over 20 film clips from the last two Denver Nuggets games. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9s9FPjllKk Topics include: Start – 0:00 Manimal back with the Gold – 3:30 Warriors commentators – 12:00 Jokic trying to clear the paint – 15:06 Jokic not biting – 17:04 Zeke great screen on reversal – 18:53 JMyke & Bones – 24:02 JMyke…...

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