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Denver Nuggets Can't Complete Sweep in Minnesota

Brendan Vogt Avatar
April 24, 2023

Nikola Jokić – A

Nikola Jokić posted a monster stat line in a playoff loss. It’s happened before, and it may not be a coincidence. That’s not to say Jokić was doing anything wrong in dropping 43 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists — rather, that might be a symptom of suboptimal offense. Jokić’s teammates weren’t ready to play from the opening tip. He recognized it early and went to work. The Wolves returned to Karl-Anthony Towns as the primary assignment, leaving Gobert to roam. Jokić feasted, but Denver’s optimal offense is an egalitarian utopia. The ball stuck, players stood still, and Denver returned to MVP ball.

Not all of that falls on Jokić. A lot of it doesn’t. Still, he missed a clutch free throw late in the game, which would have sealed the win. He shot 2 of 5 from the floor in overtime. Despite his monster line, Denver lost his minutes. He fell a little short of an A+ performance.

Jamal Murray – D

Murray looked like he was playing in the sand Sunday night. Nickeil Alexander-Walker hounded him, and Murray struggled to bring the ball up the court, let alone get into the offense on time. He looked exhausted early, and the ball stuck in his hands. He took a significant step back defensively too. He was the weak link on that end for Denver.

Murray could stand to make things easier on himself, but the coaching staff could be of more assistance too. A tough assignment can be shed with timely screens. They took the long way around game four’s obstacle. Denver needs much more from him in game five.

Michael Porter Jr. – C

Porter succumbed to the cardinal sin of MVP watching. He spent a lot of time standing around while Jokić went to work. He looked distant — almost drifting across the court for stretches. It wasn’t a failing performance. He turned in a handful of nice defensive possessions and played an essential role in a fourth-quarter comeback. Still, when he watches the film, he’ll likely notice his mistakes — or perhaps more aptly, what was absent. That winning spark he played with in games two and three. Denver could have looked to him more in OT after his role in getting them there. But again, Porter hardly looked eager to go and get the ball.

KCP – D+

KCP played a game to forget Sunday night. His night began with a no-call on a seemingly hard foul. There was a big collision, but no whistle. Pope grabbed at his side in pain. Things wouldn’t get much better for him. Anthony Edwards gave KCP some work — he was not alone in that experience — and Pope struggled mightily from the field. He shot 2 of 7 and biffed a Jokić-highlight that we should still be celebrating.

Aaron Gordon – C+

Gordon continues to do an excellent job with the second unit. Denver’s unlocked something with him at the backup five, and we’ve been spared the nightmare we endured all season whenever Jokić sat. Gordon mostly played a solid game, but his lowlights came when guarding Anthony Edwards, particularly as Ant drilled the dagger in overtime. It was a no-three situation, and Gordon bit hard. That’s been a tough matchup for him since he got to Denver.

Bruce Brown – C

Brown had some important buckets throughout the game, but his overall impact left plenty desired. He posted a 0:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is suboptimal. He struggled from the field and was one of the many Denver defenders who couldn’t handle Ant.

Jeff Green – C

Jeff Green has been a pleasant surprise on defense in this series. That continued in game four, but he couldn’t buy a bucket. He shot 0 of 3 from the floor. Still, Denver survived his minutes. He’s low on the list of problems in the loss.

Christian Braun – C

Braun logged a couple of rebounds and fouls in roughly 13 minutes on the floor. He was a non-factor offensively, although he did help the bench engineer some stops.

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