Denver Nuggets’ 2019-20 schedule: Key takeaways
The Denver Nuggets’ schedule for the 2019-20 NBA season has officially been revealed. Let’s take a look at some key takeaways from the 2019-20 schedule and how that will affect the Nuggets.
1) More national recognition
Each year, fans continue to complain that their team isn’t represented enough on national TV networks (mainly ESPN and TNT). However, as has usually been the case over the years, the more you win, the more recognition you receive.
That is certainly true for the Nuggets in the 2019-20 campaign, as they are slated to have 17 games across ESPN and TNT, with some additional games on NBATV surely coming throughout the year. While some of those games come against teams in big media markets (Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, etc.), there are a few games against teams that aren’t set-up to be true playoff contenders in the upcoming season (Mavericks, Thunder and two games against the Pelicans).
The Nuggets have long had a fun style of play that attracts a lot of fans to tune in through NBA League Pass. However, after a 54-win campaign in 2018-19, the Nuggets will reach a larger audience through these national TV appearances.
Of course, the two headlining games of this group are the games on national holidays. Denver will host the Pelicans at Pepsi Center on Christmas and will travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
After years of striving to break out on to the scene, the 2019-20 schedule makes it clear: the Nuggets have officially arrived.
2) A favorable stretch to open the season
Throughout the offseason, the Nuggets have stressed continuity. By bringing back the entire playoff rotation, Denver is banking on that roster familiarity and team chemistry to help propel them throughout the grind of an 82-game regular season. While Denver did make a significant addition in the form of Jerami Grant, he is a player that fits in perfectly to Denver’s style of play and rotation.
As a result, the Nuggets hope to be on the same page as soon as the regular season kicks off, which can help a team get through those early sets of games. While other contenders in the Western Conference will be adjusting to new players (Russell Westbrook in Houston, both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers, etc.), the Nuggets will simply be focused on playing the same way, only in an improved manner after internal player development.
When it comes to the schedule to open the season, the Nuggets also received some good news. Below is the breakdown of Denver’s first 10 games of the 2019-20 season:
Seven of Denver’ first 10 opponents did not make the playoffs last season, and many of those teams have made significant changes to their roster over the offseason. It’s fitting that Denver opens up the season against division-rival Portland, before shifting to games against teams that are either rebuilding or working towards a lower-seeded playoff berth. There is one back-to-back in this stretch (which we’ll get to shortly), and Denver is expected to be better than nearly every team in that set of games.
Given Denver’s emphasis on continuity and the opening 10 games to the season, don’t be surprised if the Nuggets jump out of the gates with a fast start.
READ MORE: Top 10 games to watch in 2019-20
3) Breaking down the back-to-backs
In what is always an annual focus when crafting the schedule, back-to-backs (B2Bs) can stagnate a team’s progress or give way to memorable moments throughout a season. In the 2019-20 season, Denver has 13 back-to-backs on its schedule, which is essentially in line with the league average (12.7).
Of those 13 B2Bs, three of them include no travel (home-and-home), while four of them include over 750 miles of travel between games. Ultimately, while the Nuggets have nine games classified as “tired games” (in which a team has played the night before but the opponent hasn’t), they also have 12 games in which they will have the rest advantage over their opponent.
One of the toughest B2Bs that Denver will face takes place in early February, where the Nuggets will face Portland on Feb. 4 before traveling to Utah to take on another division rival in the Jazz on the next night. Other tough B2Bs include facing Golden State on the road on the second night of a B2B on Jan. 16 and a set of road games on the East coast that ends with a matchup against the Boston Celtics.
During the 2018-19 season, the Nuggets thrived in back-to-back sets. Denver finished the season 12-1 on the second night of a back-to-back, which was the best mark in the entire league. Denver’s youth and quality depth certainly aid in dealing with the grueling contests.
Given the amount of quality depth up-and-down the Nuggets’ rotation, head coach Michael Malone will have the ability to balance playing time and limit the physical toll of the regular season. Doing so will have a profound impact on the team’s play come playoff time.