Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Tuesday that forward Michael Porter Jr. should be “good to go” for Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night and that guard Will Barton could return to the court for the first time in almost two months, as well.
“I think Michael Porter should be good to go,” Malone said, after Porter tweaked his back in Denver’s 122-105 loss to Phoenix in Game 1 on Monday night. “He got treatment all day today, had a good conversation with him. But, barring anything unforeseen, Michael should be good to go for Game 2.”
Porter, the ultra-talented third-year forward, missed his entire first season in the NBA with back issues. But Porter, who had 15 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes in Game 1, has developed into an elite scorer to complement Nuggets superstar — and newly minted NBA Most Valuable Player — Nikola Jokic.
Meanwhile, Barton, who has been out since hurting his hamstring on April 23 against the Golden State Warriors, could make his return in Game 2. That would be a significant boost for a Nuggets team that has been without Jamal Murray, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, as well as reserve guard PJ Dozier.
Malone wasn’t ready to commit to Barton getting minutes in Game 2 but said he was moving well Tuesday and that he hoped the latest the veteran would return to the court would be Game 3 on Friday in Denver.
“Will Barton had another really good day,” Malone said. “So I definitely think he’s a possible candidate to play tomorrow. Now, I’m not trying to say that he’s definitely going to play — we have to continue to have those conversations with the training staff — but to me, the eye test, watching Will play today, I have a lot of hope that he’s able to give us some minutes tomorrow, and if it’s not Game 2, maybe it’s Game 3 as we move back to Denver.
“But that’s not guaranteed, so let’s not get too excited.”