The Denver Nuggets will begin their 2021 playoff run shorthanded.
Jamal Murray is of course done for the season with a torn left ACL, and the team has confirmed Austin Rivers (non-COVID illness), Will Barton (right hamstring strain), and PJ Dozier (right abductor strain) are out for Game 1 against the Trail Blazers.
Barton and Dozier being out for the series-opener are not much of a surprise given neither has played in some time due to the injuries.
Mike Singer of The Denver Post reported Barton is targeting to return from his hamstring injury during the Blazers series, and has begun practicing, which is a welcoming sign.
For Barton, he’s at least ruled out, for now, to run it back in postseason play against his former team.
“I think Will is definitely closer [to returning] than PJ,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone.
Barton appeared in 56 games and 52 starts during the regular-season for Denver, averaging 12.7 points.
Malone and the Nuggets staff have a big decision to make with no Barton, Dozier, and Rivers, someone who started the last five games of the regular-season for them.
Monte Morris could get the starting nod as a defensive guy to go alongside Facundo Campazzo to guard Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Morris appeared in 47 regular-season games and started in 13, averaging a career-high 25.4 minutes.
Game 1 tips off at 7:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 22nd on NBC Sports Northwest, the official home of the Portland Trail Blazers.