Aaron Gordon’s Playoff Defense Has Fueled Nuggets NBA Finals Run | “Air Gordon” Has Shut Down KAT, KD, Bron, Now Jimmy’s Back

There are a bevy of reasons why the Denver Nuggets are in their first NBA Finals.

Aaron Gordon’s Lock Down Defense On All-Star Scorers

The most underrated factor in Denver’s playoff success is the play of wing Aaron Gordon, who’s defensive versatility has been a godsend for the Nuggets.

AG is everything the team envisioned when it acquired him at the 2021 trade deadline; a player strong enough to guard bigs around the rim, but athletic and fleet-footed enough to guard wings and flashy guards on the perimeter.

That’s exactly what the 6-foot-9 athletic specimen has done all season, but especially in this run to the finals. He also knows there’s no time for relaxing as the team looks to close out a magical season. 

Gordon’s active defense and impact around the rim has once again reaffirmed the value of having solid defense players on championship teams., especially in a run-n-gun, triple-or-dribble NBA.

Takes Key Role Players To Win Championship

While he won’t grab the headlines on Twitter, his value to the goal is immense. We know who the top billing guys are.

First and foremost is all-world center Nikola Jokic, the walking triple-double, who won back-to-back NBA MVPs in 2021 and 2022 is the straw that stirs the drink in the Mile High City.

He’s flanked by dynamic point guard Jamal Murray, who’s been on a tear the second half of the season and playoffs after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Then there’s the leadership and execution of veteran head coach Mike Malone. 

With the Nuggets being off for 12 days, Gordon wasn’t feeling the rust-versus-rest notion during Tuesday’s media session. He told reporters this about it. 

“We’ve been working. It’s not like we’ve had our hands back and feet kicked up.”

“We’ve been locked in, in the gym, working diligently. So we feel like we’re in a good space. It’s been a good balance of work to rest. Happy we have home court advantage.”

Gordon Has Been Magnificent Against Some Of The League’s Best

Known for his toughness and physicality, Gordon has put that on full display with defensive assignments versus Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, and Los Angeles Lakers point forward LeBron James. Not the easiest of tasks, but Gordon has passed with flying colors. 

When guarded by Gordon that trio of All-Stars shot a combined 44 percent from the field, and a very paltry 19.7 percent from three. That’s invaluable for a Nuggets team that doesn’t have a real rim protector.

Gordon also forced the trio into 22 turnovers, versus 26 total assists. Gordon used a different approach for each, with KAT and KD he played them extremely physically, often forcing them into very tough shots. 

With James he took a different approach by employing a fair amount of finesse. He was often beating James to the spot, as evidenced by his defense on the final possession of Game 4 of the Nuggets’ surprising four-game sweep.

On that play he forced James to play through him, allowing the help to come, and James never got off a shot under the rim as the final four seconds ticked off. 

His defense is a testament to a Nuggets team which for years has been only good enough to get here offensively.

They’ve been top-10 in defensive efficiency since after the new year, and Gordon is a huge reason why. They even have the highest defensive rating during the playoffs at (111.7)

Gordon Has One More Assignment Ahead Of Him

You can almost bet that Gordon will be assigned to Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler in the Finals.

Butler has been on a tear all playoffs, and “Air Gordon” will be looking to shut his water off. He’ll also have some stabs at guarding Heat center Bam Adebayo, who is better when facing the rim and using his quickness and athleticism to attack downhill.

He also hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves for what he brings offensively, averaging 13 points and six rebounds on 49 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from three. 

He’s an all-around key piece to a Nuggets championship run, but his defense is where he shines the most.

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