The Bulls are taking on the Nuggets in Denver in a game that’s a lot closer than it should be. On the basis of the scoreline alone, it’s hard to tell that one team is the second-best squad in the West by record, and the other is trying hard to bring Zion Williamson onto their team. There are some indicators, however, that show how much better fundamentally the Nuggets are compared to the Bulls. One of those indicators is the fact that no one decided to try and box out Paul Millsap, leaving the forward open to turn Jamal Murray’s missed shot into a put-back slam.
This feat of athleticism has been a departure from the norm for the 33-year-old, which explains why not even his own team’s bench could believe what happened in that play. Millsap has turned into a hard-nosed defender who can stretch the floor with perimeter shots on offense as he’s gotten older. There was no better example of the player’s lack of bounce than when the Nuggets decided to try him as the guy participating in the opening tip-off last season. In the 14 games he was tasked with trying to win the jump-ball, Millsap lost every single one.
As the Nuggets learned today, his leaping abilities are much better in an uncontested situation.