For the very first time in franchise history, the Denver Nuggets enter the NBA Playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the West. Nikola Jokic and Co. have been doing marvelous things all season long, and it actually comes as no surprise that the Nuggets have emerged as the best team in the conference after a historic regular season campaign.
Be that as it may, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is not at all convinced by Denver’s credentials. Smith conceded that the Nuggets are a formidable squad, but at the end of the day, the outspoken broadcaster does not believe that this team has what it takes to go all the way:
“They’re a really, really, really good team, but when you look at the elite, you say, ‘Would they really get over the hump?’ Have they convinced you that they are those dudes?’ They haven’t… nobody believes Denver are those dudes until further notice,” Smith said on Friday’s episode of NBA Today.
That’s harsh, and obviously, Nuggets fans aren’t going to like Stephen A’s bold claim here. Then again, you can’t really say that he’s wrong. Denver has not proven anything as of yet. They have been in the playoffs for five straight years now, but they’ve never gotten out of the West. The farther they’ve gone was in the Conference Finals in 2020 where they lost to the eventual champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets will obviously want to prove Smith and all of their doubters wrong this season, and their journey starts off on Sunday when they battle the winners of the Play-In Game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Denver will be the clear favorite in the opening round, and it will be a good opportunity for them to make a statement early on.
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