The Utah Jazz don't exactly have a strong track record against the Denver Nuggets this season. Denver won all three matchups this season, all of which came with absent starters. Their 3-5 bubble record left plenty to be desired as well, and now, their time has run out. The playoffs are officially at hand, and the Nuggets are waiting for them in the first round. Either right the ship or go home.
They'll have their work cut out for them given their depleted roster. Mike Conley left the bubble Sunday for the birth of his son, and Ed Davis and Bojan Bogdanovic are both injured. The Nuggets will be without Gary Harris and Will Barton, but their depth has largely insulated them against injury problems in the bubble. Michael Porter Jr. has stepped into a starting role and thrived, while backups like Monte Morris, P.J. Dozier and Keita Bates-Diop have stepped up with Denver's perimeter starters absent. They still have work to do, but they enter this series as strong favorites. Here's everything you need to know about Game 1 of Nuggets vs. Jazz.
How to Watch Nuggets-Jazz Game 1
- Date: Monday, Aug. 17 | 1:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Disney Wide World of Sports -- Orlando, Florida
- TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: Nuggets -4.5 | Over/Under: 215.5
Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr. averaged an efficient 22 points per game in the seeding games, and Utah doesn't exactly have an ideal matchup for him. Their top perimeter defender, Royce O'Neale, is only 6-4. He's giving up half of a foot to Porter, who fairly easily shoots over defenders his own size. O'Neale is physical and will make Porter work to get to his spots, but on paper, this looks like the sort of matchup Porter should dominate. If the Nuggets are getting 20-25 points from Porter every night in addition to everything Nikola Jokic bring to the table, the Jazz just won't have enough firepower to keep up.
Jazz: If ever there was a time for Donovan Mitchell to make a major leap, it's now. The Jazz are without their best shooter in Bogdanovic and one of their only other ball-handlers in Conley. Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson are going to have to carry big offensive loads in this series, but the onus ultimately falls on Mitchell. He has to average something like 30 points per game to give the Jazz even a chance of keeping up with the Nuggets right now. Denver can roll out of bed into 110 points. It's going to be a struggle for the Jazz to put anything like that on the board, and their ability to do so will depend on Mitchell playing like a true superstar.
This just isn't a good matchup for Utah, and the regular season proved that. Rudy Gobert's rim-protection means less against such an unconventional offense. The Jazz have nobody equipped to defend Porter, and their offense is in such shambles right now that picking them to win against such an explosive Denver team just seems unreasonable. This should be a comfortable victory for the Nuggets to kick things off Pick: Nuggets -4.5