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The Nuggets have scored some big wins lately. How far do you see Denver going this season? What has you believing (or not believing) in them?

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Steve Aschburner:  Here’s how much I like the Nuggets — if LeBron James had wanted first and foremost to win another championship ring, and do so quickly, I think Denver would have been a better summer destination for him than the Lakers. Coach Michael Malone is working with a great ensemble, in need mostly of that tent-pole guy and reliable closer. As is, I think the Nuggets can go as far as the Western Conference finals, particularly if they get marvelously skilled big man Nikola Jokic to consistently play more aggressively on offense.

Shaun Powell:  You must believe in Denver because as good as this team has looked lately, they’ve yet to reach the ceiling. What happens when Will Barton returns? Are you a believer in Isaiah Thomas, who’s also mending? Assuming these additions will only deepen and bolster the lineup, there’s no reason not to believe the Nuggets will be a top-three team when the playoffs approach. Their deep lineup, solid defense most nights and freakish center in Nikola Jokic spells trouble for others.

John Schuhmann:  It’s fair to believe that the Nuggets are the early favorite to be the team that loses to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. They’re the only West team that ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, having seen the league’s biggest improvement on defense (6.4 fewer points allowed per 100 possessions than last season). There’s reason to be a little leery of that, because their new system (like that of the Bucks under Jason Kidd) can give up layups and corner 3-pointers, and much of their success is about their opponent 3-point percentage (lowest in the league), a number which can be a little deceiving at this point in the season. But the players have bought in and they’ve played more games against top-10 offenses (nine) than they have against bottom-10 offenses (seven). Their bench has been very good (Trey Lyles can play), and should be better upon the return of Will Barton.

Sekou Smith:  The Nuggets came into this season on my teams-on-the-rise list and they’ve lived up to it so far. They’ve got the talent and depth to be a top-four team in the Western Conference playoff chase. They are that good. And yes, it’s easy to believe in a team when they are tied for the No. 1 spot in the West. But what we’re talking about is projecting where this Nuggets team is headed over the course of the next four-plus months. I’m not nervous at all about projecting the Nuggets as a part of that top-four mix. I am confident they won’t see a repeat of last season, when they played for a playoff spot on the final night of the regular season (and lost it to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime).

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Kyrie Irving to miss game with shoulder injury

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* Tonight on NBA TV: Pelicans vs. Celtics (7:30 ET)

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has been ruled out with right shoulder soreness for tonight’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the team announced on Monday afternoon.

In addition to Irving, Aron Baynes (left ankle sprain) and Guerschon Yabusele (right ankle sprain) are also out for tonight’s game. And they could be joined by starters Al Horford (left knee soreness) and Gordon Hayward (illness) who are both listed as doubtful for the matchup with New Orleans.

Irving tweaked his right shoulder near the end of the Celtics’ win over the New York Knicks last Thursday. After the game, Irving didn’t seem too concerned about the injury.

“It was just a weird play at the end of the game,” Irving told reporters after the game. “I don’t know. It’s like I got caught up as I was trying to get the ball out and pass it to Marcus [Smart] for a 3. It just caught me weird on my shoulder. So it’s probably an AC joint or something like that. I’m not diagnosing myself, I’m pretty sure. I saw the doctors afterward and they said AC joint or something going on there, but I’ll be all right.”



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Warriors named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of Year

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The three-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors are the fourth team to be honored as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year.

The Warriors join the 1980 U.S. hockey team, the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer squad and the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the other team honorees.

Sports Illustrated announced the winner Monday, and editor-in-chief Chris Stone said they have been thinking of some way to honor the Warriors during their run of three titles in four years. He also acknowledged that there were a couple years where Steph Curry has been in the conversation.

“There is something transcendent about the team where the sum of their parts was apparent from the beginning,” Stone said. “What they have built into a dynasty is a function of empirical success. They’re really a generational team. I don’t know if, in my lifetime, there has been a team where the pieces have blended so beautifully together.”

Stone also said that the Warriors’ honor is more about the celebration of the organization doing something unique over an extended period while the other teams were honored for what they did in a certain year.

Alexander Ovechkin, who led the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup title, Tiger Woods and LeBron James also received consideration, but Stone said the Warriors felt like the favorite when they repeated as NBA champions.

“In the same way they play, they seem to speak in a single voice,” Stone said. “The unity of message with the Warriors is the same way we refer to LeBron and his answering some of the hard questions. They did it forcefully, but also civilly, in a way that helps advance conversations.”

The Warriors will receive the award during a ceremony in Los Angeles on Tuesday that will air on NBCSN on Thursday.

“This is an incredible honor and one that certainly signifies our Strength in Numbers philosophy as a team and organization,” Warriors President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Bob Myers said. “Our success is due to the contributions of every single player, coach and staff member in our organization; for Sports Illustrated to recognize this unique dynamic is truly special.”

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Look back at the best moments from the 2018 NBA Finals.



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Nuggets sign veteran guard Nick Young

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The Denver Nuggets have signed veteran guard Nick Young, the team announced on Monday.

Young won a championship with averages of 7.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 17.4 minutes for the Golden State Warriors last season.

The Nuggets, 17-9, are in need of backcourt depth after starting guard Gary Harris went down with a right hip injury last Monday. Harris, who is expected to miss three to four weeks with the injury, joins fellow Nuggets guards Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and Will Barton (right hip) on the injured list.

Young will wear No. 34 with the Nuggets. 



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