2009 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Game 2: Denver Nuggets 108 – New Orleans Hornets 93 Initial Thoughts

Box Score | Highlights

Do you all remember during the regular season when the Denver Nuggets could not stop the pick and roll to save their lives?  There were many games where they looked completely lost at what to do when the opposition set a ball screen.

What they are doing now in the first two games against the New Orleans Hornets series is almost too good to be true.  Tonight the Nuggets actually implemented four different schemes, at least that I recognized, to slow down Chris Paul.  During game one they brought help on both sides of the screen in order to keep Chris Paul out of the lane.  Tonight, they ran much less of that while they did a lot more switching, they also trapped and they even played some straight up hedge and recover. 

No matter what scheme they followed Paul was never left alone and Denver was able to direct him into situations where his best option was to pass.  In game one the Nuggets played off of him a little bit more and he was able to get off 19 shots.  I think Denver decided that they would rather have Paul rack up the assists with a few points than a bunch of points with his typical amount of assists.

If that was indeed their thinking it could not have worked better.  Ina game where I expected to see a hyper competitive CP3 look to dominate the game from start to finish, Paul only managed 11 shots.  Not nearly enough to impact the game with his scoring.

As in the first game the Nuggets played almost equally well on both ends of the floor.  Chauncey was obviously on fire again.  With Melo and J.R. also having efficient offensive nights the Hornets were at a loss for how to defend Denver.  They were so conflicted they actually completely lost track of Chauncey on one possession leaving him wide open for another made three pointer.

It has been incredible to see Chauncey almost reborn in the postseason.  He has a fire and focus that we have not seen from him all season.  He has even added some flash to his game.  With 6:01 left in the second quarter Chauncey caught an outlet pass on the Nuggets side of half court.  He dribbled towards the lane from the right side while Nene ran down the middle of the floor.  Chauncey then attacked the rim forcing Chandler to step up to guard him and slipped the ball behind his back with his left hand, and practically right across Rasual Butler’s chest, into Nene’s hands.

Chauncey made an equally enthralling play in the middle of the third quarter.  He caught an outlet pass from Kenyon with six minutes left at the Hornets’ free throw line dribbled up the floor.  Chris Paul tried timing a steal on him, but Chauncey pulled off a beautiful spin to his right while keeping the dribble with his left hand leaving Paul in the dust.  He then pulled up from 17 feet and drained the jumper.  It was beautiful.

That is all for tonight.  I am experiencing some serious sleep deprivation so you will all have to wait until sometime tomorrow for the additional game nuggets.  If you simply cannot wait that long you can get a couple hundred more words on the game by clicking here and checking out item seven (yea I have fallen from number two to number three and now down to number seven).

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  • BeefySwats

    Hey jeremy,

    Love your threads and all your insightful Nuggets analysis; I haven’t been able to comment as much as I’d like because I have been watching the game over at my friends’ (and what good games they have been!!).

    Anyway, dont feel badly that the blog has fallen down the rankings a little bit. I think that, honestly, it’s due to the relatively clunky chat interface – we don’t get auto-refresh and updates on comments like SB nation does, but then, we don’t get the annoying ads that SB nation does. 😀

    Thanks again and GO NUGGETS!! I want to see them take one in Nawlins, then come home for game 6 so I can watch them win it and move on. :)

  • Nuggets4


  • Stumbleweed

    Wow, The Can was lousy with douchebags last night… the top rows of my section and another one nearly got thrown out of the game for yelling out “F*$% Chris Paul” at high volume throughout the game, and also drunkenly yelling “F*$% you!!” to the other yelling morons.. it was interesting. Some kid got tossed for underage drinking I believe, but I guess his friends fake IDs were better, because they stayed. The ushers had their hands full — a guy a few seats down from me started getting into it with one of them after he warned him not to curse loudly.

    The most disturbing thing was all the blatantly sexist anti-Violet Palmer stuff being yelled. I don’t think she’s the best ref in the world, and she seems to have something against the Nuggets — but these dudes were yelling, “Go back to the WNBA, you stupid bitch!” every time she made a call… just very irritating to have to deal with that garbage all night, especially with my girlfriend sitting next to me. Show some class.

    So yeah, other than that, it was a good night. Sexually-suggestive Russian contortionist shooting arrows with her feet was likely enjoyed by most of the preteen boys in the audience as well as by the meathead idiots who kept yelling, “Wooo, you’re HOT!”

    I have seats to Game 5 and Game 7, and if tonight is any indication, I’m hoping we sweep so I don’t have to go to another out of control game ha… hate to say that.

    Stop being so drunk, Denver… I know you’re excited, but jeez…

  • OneMoreSucka

    Hey Jeremy, love the blog. Do you think Billups is taking this series a little bit more personal since he’s matched up with Chris Paul. As you said he has added quite a bit of flash to his game and has even been doing fancy dribbles while walking the ball up. I HAVE to believe the only reason he’s doing it is to show CP3 that while he may be the best regular season PG, Chauncey is the best post season PG. He’s seriously lighting CP3 up in every way imaginable, I would’ve never seen it coming.

    PS – I wish Kmart would’ve finished that play where Chauncey bounced it between his legs and through two defenders. Would’ve been on highlight reels for days.

  • BeefySwats

    5/5 from the field for one of our most inept offensive players? I’ll take it.

    Another sub-par shooting night from Melo, shooting 50% from the field, but he dished NINE assists. Now that is freakin’ great. I would like to see him crash the offensive glass more, particularly on his jumpers, but I am happy with efficient scoring and assists.

    I don’t believe Dahntay is going to take away from J.R.‘s PT at all, but you cannot deny that he has been an invaluable defensive asset. if Karl feels that we’re getting beaten up in NO, expect him to log some significant minutes over Carter. And I’m fine with that, as long as he doesn’t routinely attempt 15 footers like last night.

    Everytime he hoisted one up I just clutched my chest and was all “GAHHH WHAT ARE YOU DOING DAHNTAY” -———- and then the shot clanked in. Still much rather have the ball in Chauncey’s capable hands or in Melo’s.

    Also, Jeremy– do you think you might be able to run a piece on Nene? I asked the same question over at PANR and I want answers…

    What’s wrong with the guy? He really hasn’t looked the same for the past few weeks heading into the postseason. He plays timid in the post, looks to defer rather than shoot, and is laying the ball up rather than dunking it down. This is a serious issue and will affect the Nuggets greatly when/if they match up against the Mavs/Spurs/Rockets/Lakers and Dirk/Duncan/Yao/Gasol again (Portland is going to lose lol)

  • jakester

    OneMore, I don’t think you can discount how well Chauncey wants to play in front of his home town fans. But your comment does beg the question – is there a better postseason point guard since Magic Johnson? I think you have to put Chauncey’s resume up against pretty much anyone’s – Parker, Kidd, even Stockton. He certainly has never had a Tim Duncan or even Karl Malone to play with. And yet he wins.

    Yes, Tony has won three championships to Chauncey’s one. And one of those was against Billups (although Chauncey thoroughly dominated Tony in the ’05 finals) and he did get a Finals MVP two years later. But I mean, come on. On another team, would Parker really have a ring?

    Hopefully in the next round, Chauncey has a chance to again go up against a quick, talented guard and show him who’s boss.

  • sleepydog

    watching chauncey play these two games has been truly amazing. a couple of days before the playoffs started i said to a friend i expect him to come out strong in the playoffs and play well, but i had no idea it would be THIS well. maybe the best hes ever played.

    watching the game, i thought melo played very ok. offensively he couldnt really get into the lane very much, but he did a good job passing out of double teams, but i didnt think he shot particularly well. and then i looked at the box score and realized he scored his season average, shot 50%, had 9 assists, and only one turnover. not a crazy good night, but quietly very effective. and he also played great d (mostly). amazing how he can “struggle” to play a game like that.