NBA Playoffs must-follow storylines: Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, NBA playoffs (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, NBA playoffs (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

An NBA playoffs matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz provides an entertaining big-man duel with plenty of intrigue across both rosters.

They claim the impact of the big man decreases each passing year, but the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz say otherwise. En-route to a first-round matchup with their northwest division contemporaries, both have ridden the shoulders of the only two official centers listed among the 2020 All-Stars.

Nikola Jokic started the season slow but eventually rounded back into the form that makes him one of the most dangerous offensive big men in the NBA. Yet after slimming down amid the NBA’s stoppage, consistency has eluded him upon return. Four of Denver’s eight seeding games have seen Jokic below 20 points, including two in single-digits — he did take only one shot in 10 minutes against Toronto in the final seeding game.

Rudy Gobert’s defensive efforts have remained pristine, enough for him to earn his first All-Star nod. He may have had to answer for some questionable decision-making soon after the league’s suspension, but his rim protection and screen-setting remain vital to Utah’s plans at either end.

Neither the Nuggets nor Jazz enters these playoffs under any sort of hot streak. The former has lost three straight while the latter ended a three-game skid in their final outing.

Both are dealing with their share of absences as well. Denver will be without Garry Harris or Will Barton for Game 1. Mike Conley left the bubble to attend the birth of his son. Ed Davis is out with a left MCL injury.

Denver has taken all three of their matchups, although none have come by more than six points. A two-point overtime victory on Aug. 8 raised excitement about the potential theatrics a seven-game series would provide. With fantasy now a reality, assessing the chances of two teams just below the line of true contenders should uncover plenty before the series kicks off on Monday.