The Denver Nuggets fell in Game 1 of their second round series earlier this week, struggling to keep pace with the much deeper Phoenix Suns. With Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday night, league MVP Nikola Jokic and head coach Michael Malone got a piece of good news about the team’s roster.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Nuggets wing Will Barton will return to the lineup on Wednesday night. The 30-year-old had been out since April 23 with a nagging hamstring injury but will come back just in time to give Denver a massive boost.
Barton brings the biggest upside on the defensive end and has been Malone’s most reliable wing defender for the past few seasons. With Devin Booker suiting up for the Suns, Barton will be able to help give serious attention to the star shooting guard, which should help the Nuggets slow down Phoenix’s high-powered attack.
On offense, Barton has shown flashes of playmaking ability and has blossomed into a solid three-point shooter. In 56 games this season, he averaged 12.7 points and 3.2 assists per contest while shooting a career-high 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Denver guard Will Barton will test his hamstring in warmups for Game 2 and — barring a setback — is expected to make his return to the lineup vs. the Suns tonight, sources tell ESPN. Barton has been out since suffering injury on April 23.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 9, 2021
The Nuggets fell behind in their first round against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers but went on to win four of the next five games to take the series in six. The Suns are significantly deeper and head coach Monty Williams appears to have a solid gameplan to slowdown Jokic, which makes Game 2 in Phoenix all the more important for Denver to steal.
If the Nuggets can’t get the job done, it’ll be an uphill battle for the remainder of the series.
Game 2 between the Nuggets and the Suns tips off on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT.