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Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could join the Nuggets by April 1, just in time for the NBA playoffs.  – Denver Post

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Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could join the Nuggets by April 1, just in time for the NBA playoffs. – Denver Post

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Before spectators started to fill the seats in the Ball Arena and 45 minutes before TNT went live on its national telecast, two glimmers of hope could be found in this winter of discontent for the Nuggets, when a team with Championship aspirations has been beset by devastating injuries, rocked by COVID protocols and frustrated by big blown leads.

Within 50 feet of each other this Thursday night, goaltender Jamal Murray and forward Michael Porter Jr. performed private practices, shooting mid-range jump shots at opposite ends of the pitch, at one point ripping through the nets by swinging 19 of the 20 shots in a row.

The reason to believe isn’t dead yet, folks.

While Denver is nearing the midpoint of a crazed, crazy NBA season struggling to stay above .500 despite center MVP Nikola Jokic’s best efforts, better days could be ahead for this team. , just in time for the playoffs.

With Murray still recovering from an ACL injury and MPJ having back surgery in December, there are no guarantees. But anyone who has seen them sweating that winter night has reason to be optimistic.

Don’t be surprised if Murray and Porter return in uniform to play for the Nuggets by April 1.

“I know our fans all think we should be 40-0. That’s just the nature of it. I understand, ”Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, before the Nuggets beat Portland 140-108 to improve their record to 21-19.

“But for us to be where we are now, sixth place in the West, with everything we’ve been up against?” And if you take out the second and third best player from any team, in our case Jamal Murray and Michael Porter… ”

Malone went on to imagine that reserves PJ Dozier, Markus Howard and Vlatko Cancar were also sidelined by bad breaks.

All these injuries?

“Crazy,” Malone said.

It’s enough to drive us all crazy, maybe even ditch the hope in the trash and wait until next year.

Do not do it.

In these times of COVID, we’ve wasted too many months hiding under the covers and complaining that things will get better someday, instead of going out and grabbing that day.

When Jokic, doing nothing less than playing some of the best basketball this league has ever seen, is on your side, the Nuggets have reason to believe they can win any night against n any team in the league.

Even on the shorthand, Denver can scratch and claw the Mavericks, Lakers, Clippers and Timberwolves, claim the fifth seed in the West, then see how much damage Murray and Porter could help the team do in the playoffs. playoffs.

At a staff meeting in preparation for the Blazers, Malone walked around the room and asked, “What’s been the hardest part: bubble season?” Last season? Or this year?

The honest answer: All of the above.

“They’ve all been really tough in their own way,” said Malone. “In the bubble, you were away from your family and friends for 83 days. Last year there was the shortened offseason into a very condensed season with all the testing protocols. And then you have this season, where I think the biggest challenge for me is literally every day that you don’t know which player or which staff member will be available.

The constant companion of every NBA team in these uncertain times?

“Angst,” Malone said.

For almost two years, whether we were talking about sports or life in general, the real winners were those who stubbornly refused to let angst beat them.

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could join the Nuggets by April 1, just in time for the NBA playoffs. – Denver Post

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