Denver Nuggets’ 2021-22 Schedule Release: Can't-miss games and takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The wait is over!

The Nuggets’ schedule is out and the Mile High Basketball faithful has a chance to see their team tip-off its first regular-season action of the season on Oct. 20. The NBA loves scheduling some of its best matchups in the opening week and Michael Malone’s team will be going up against the Suns, the team that eliminated Denver in the semifinals, in Phoenix on opening night (7 p.m. MT, ESPN). The Nuggets will then travel back home to Ball Arena to host their home opener against the San Antonio Spurs (7 p.m. MT).

Here are some early takeaways from the schedule:

Chance to build some momentum

The Nuggets have a chance to get off to a strong start thanks to their draw in the early part of the season. In the opening 20 games, five of the teams who the Nuggets will face didn’t make the postseason (San Antonio, Cleveland, Minnesota, Houston, Chicago). Only three of the teams had a better record than Denver last year: Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Utah).

While every season presents a team that vastly improves in the offseason, the first quarter of the season will be crucial for Malone’s team to get off to a positive start.

Grueling road trip awaits

Things start to get more challenging for Denver in the second quarter of the season as it faces a SEVEN-game road trip in December. The trip is highlighted by a visit to the Garden on Dec. 4th to face the resurgent Knicks followed by a tough encounter with the new-look Bulls. The team will wrap up its sixth and seventh games on the trip against the San Antonio Spurs.

Final 10 games will be a test

Another challenging part of the season will come in the last quarter of the season. Denver faces several teams who are also eying contention in the final 10 games of the season, including the Celtics, Clippers, Suns, and the Lakers twice. Sandwiched in between those matchups are games against the Hornets, Grizzlies, and Pacers – three teams that are relentless on the court.

The Nuggets will be hopefully boosted by the return of Jamal Murray at that stage of the season.

Here are five must-watch games:

Nuggets at Suns, Oct. 20

The Nuggets weren’t at full strength the last time these two teams faced in the playoffs and while any measure of revenge won’t come until the postseason, there should be plenty of fireworks in this one.

Denver’s big free agent of the summer, Jeff Green, should make his debut and the Nuggets will face a familiar face in JaVale McGee, who joined Phoenix during the offseason.

Blazers at Nuggets, Nov. 14

Chauncey Billups, a local legend, visits Denver as the new head coach of the Blazers – a team that has been Denver’s heated rival over the past four seasons.

Portland appears to be a team that is in transition, letting go of several big names during the offseason. However, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum still in the mix, this is still likely to be another tightly competitive game between the two teams.

Bucks at Nuggets, Nov. 26

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending NBA champion Bucks visit the Mile High City for the first time of the season in late November. Bucks vs. Nuggets have been one of the better matchups on the NBA schedule in recent years and it is an early chance to see how the two teams fare against each other.

Nuggets at Nets, Dec. 19:

The Nets quietly had a strong offseason, keeping most of their roster intact except for Spencer Dinwiddie, who is now a Wizard. In his place, Brooklyn added Patty Mills, a sharpshooter who makes a potent offense even more deadly.

The Nets are the early oddsmakers' favorite to lift the NBA title and Nuggets will get their first look at the star-studded team in mid-December.

Lakers at Nuggets, Jan. 15

Speaking of star-studded teams, the Nuggets will face the revamped Los Angeles Lakers in mid-January at Ball Arena.

Russell Westbrook, the 2017 MVP and a nine-time All-Star, joins forces with LeBron and AD and the Lakers also have a strong supporting cast that features Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, and Trevor Ariza among others.

This is a can’t miss game where Nuggets fans will have a chance to see the reigning MVP in Nikola Jokić along with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon take on a talented group.

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