MILWAUKEE — Coach Michael Malone knows how easily the mind can jump forward a couple days. Particularly when a vacation is involved.

Avoiding that temptation is the next challenge facing the surging Nuggets. Denver has won eight of its last 11 games to build momentum heading into the all-star break. But it has one more hurdle to clear — Thursday’s game at the Bucks, another one of the NBA’s hottest teams in February.

“We have a good rhythm right now,” Malone said following Tuesday’s win over San Antonio. “… Let’s not check out mentally until after the game. These games going into the break are always the tough ones, because guys are thinking about that Mai Tai on the beach they’re gonna be drinking.

“Let’s handle our business … and then we can get some well-deserved rest.”

The Nuggets (31-26) can lean on multiple sources of motivation to get one more win before the week off. The Western Conference playoff race is as tight as ever with approximately 25 games to go, with the third-place Spurs and ninth-place Clippers separated by two games in the loss column entering Wednesday’s games (Denver was in sixth place). The Nuggets are just 8-19 on the road, with a clunky win at Phoenix on Saturday serving as their only victory away from the Pepsi Center in 2018.

Denver has reignited its offense during its 8-3 stretch since Jan. 19, ranking fourth in the league in efficiency rating over that stretch at 113.3 points per 100 possessions. Standout big man Nikola Jokic is averaging 18.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.1 assists and has compiled three triple-doubles during that span. Gary Harris, Jamal Murray and Will Barton have complemented with top-notch shooting performances. Wilson Chandler‘s disappointing season has taken a positive spin over the past …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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