With the NBA schedule set to release sometime this month, details on a few notable games have started to slip through the cracks. Although the Phoenix Suns were not included in the initial report of the NBA’s opening slate for the 2022-23 season, other exciting news related to the team’s schedule has surfaced.
Much like Thanksgiving with the NFL, Christmas Day is often seen as a highlight for the NBA during the regular season. The league frequently selects its most talented teams, players, and the New York Knicks to suit up on the holiday to headline the celebration.
Last year, Phoenix faced off against the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors. This coming year though, reports have them drawing a different Western Conference rival. According to the Denver Post’s Mike Singer, the Suns will face off against reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Christmas.
Shams Charania of The Athletic later backed Singer’s report while also relaying info on all the other games scheduled for the big day.
Phoenix played the Nuggets to open their 2021-22 NBA season last year, falling by a 98-110 score. From that point on though, Phoenix dominated the series, winning both remaining games by a combined 39 points.
However, this rivalry, even this more recent version of it, has a history that goes back further than last season. During the 2020-21 campaign, the Suns faced off against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals en route to their NBA Finals berth.
Even though Phoenix swept the Nuggets, the series felt gritty and competitive. In the closing game, Devin Booker got into something of a scuffle with Jokic, causing the MVP to get tossed. The animosity between the two teams was reflected in the stands as well with the “Suns in Four” guy making his debut as an internet legend during the series.
But even with all that noise, it’s how each team will look during this upcoming game that feels most exciting. Although we expect the Suns to feature a rotation similar to the one they used during their last two seasons, the Nuggets will add some more lethal weapons to their arsenal.
Expected to be ready for the 2022-23 season opener, point guard Jamal Murray will join Jokic, as will Michael Porter Jr. Denver’s big three will be accompanied by the returning Aaron Gordon and “glue guys” along the wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown.
All the injured talent for Denver in their bouts vs the Suns over the past two years has been a hot topic of discussion and something many Nuggets fans have held onto as an excuse for why their team has repeatedly fallen short.
At the end of the day, winners win and losers lose—it doesn’t matter how you get there. But at the same time, there is some merit to those excuses hailing from Denver’s side. With Murray, Porter Jr., and company working behind Jokic, it would be arrogant for the Suns to view them as the same team which they manhandled over the past two seasons.
Regardless we’ll have our answer to which squad is better at full strength on Christmas Day. That’s something to celebrate for sure.