Mason Plumlee has had an unbelievably frustrating season thus far as he continues to deal with injury after injury. Plumlee has dealt with a lateral trunk strain, a core strain — which he was playing through — and now he gets the displeasure of fighting through a painful calf strain that he sustained against the Boston Celtics.

The calf strain that Plumlee suffered also brought his ironman streak to an end. It took 323 games — spanning nearly four years from Feb. 22nd, 2014 until Jan. 30th, 2018 — for Plumlee to miss a game due to injury even though he did miss one game after being traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to Denver, but that was not due to injury. Unfortunately, it is looking like this calf strain will lead to Plumlee missing more than just a few games.

“Obviously, it is a calf strain. I am by no means a doctor — so I have no idea what that means — but I think he is going to be out a little bit,” Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone explained at shootaround prior to taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder. “What is a little bit, exactly? I don’t know. Is it two weeks or is it four weeks? He has already started his rehab process. I know when I spoke to him on the plane — the night that he didn’t come to San Antonio — that he was in quite a bit of pain.”

The good news is that Plumlee has started his rehab process. Sources have confirmed to Mile High Sports that Plumlee does not need surgery and that his MRI came back clean. Now, Plumlee and the Nuggets just need to wait.

“As far as an exact timetable, I am not sure,” Malone said. “I don’t expect Mason to be back in the next couple games and that is a big loss, obviously.”

So where do the Nuggets turn from here? Plumlee had been starting at center for the Nuggets each night alongside Nikola Jokic, so replacing him will be tough. Plumlee was the frontcourt player that consistently drew the tougher defensive assignment to allow Jokic to not be as exposed on that end of the floor.

The night after Plumlee strained his calf, it was Darrell Arthur who started in his place — much to the surprise of fans and media alike.

“I thought Darrell Arthur did a great job in the minutes he was given in San Antonio,” Malone said. “I really respect (Arthur) for the job that he did and for staying ready.”

While the decision may have startled many, Arthur played well — despite LaMarcus Aldridge putting up an absurd 30 points on 14-23 shooting from the field — and Arthur was able to add 10 points on six shots to go with three rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal in 19 minutes of action in the Nuggets’ 106-104 loss in San Antonio. Malone alluded that Arthur’s defense was a large reason as to why he started him against the San Antonio Spurs.

“With Mason out — I always categorized Mason as the anchor of our defense — so I think (Arthur) got the start against San Antonio because I thought he was our best matchup against LaMarcus Aldridge,” Malone explained. “Even when you play good defense, LaMarcus makes tough shots.”

Now, it looks like Arthur will continue to be the recipient of more playing time. Malone has continued to stay true to playing two bigs at once in his starting lineup, so without Paul Millsap — who is still rehabbing from wrist surgery — or Plumlee available to play, it does make sense that Arthur would be the player to step in and contribute. When Malone was asked what he wants to see from his veteran power forward, this is what he had to say.

“I think (Arthur) needs to bring a defensive disposition to the game; a toughness and physicality that will be missed without Mason Plumlee,” Malone explained. “Offensively, he will need to spread the floor and make shots like he did the other night, and — on top of that — just continue to be the vocal leader that he has been.”

What is most important is that Malone trusts Arthur on the floor, and — for a coach — it is hard to explain how important that is. While nothing is for certain with this Nuggets’ squad, it seems the expectation is that as long as both Plumlee and Millsap are unable to play, it will be Arthur who will see an uptick in playing time.

“I could not be more happy or proud of (Arthur). He has done a phenomenal job this year of doing whatever is asked of him,” Malone said. “If it is to play minutes like he did the other night, then he would go out there and play at a high level. If he isn’t playing, he is helping teach and holding young guys accountable. He has done all of that.”