Which team has a lower defensive efficiency, the two teams full of Melos (who are also coached by Melos) in his new shoe commercial or the Denver Nuggets versus the Indiana Pacers?
Prior to tipoff I made the comment to the individual I was sitting next to that the Indiana Pacers were due to have a breakout game on offense. They may not be a good offensive team, but they are certainly much better than their performances from their previous couple of games where they shot 31.5% against Philadelphia and 38.7% versus the Milwaukee Deer. The law of averages dictates there must be some kind of return to the mean.
The Nuggets fought the law and the law won.
Indiana started the game off very well making 11 of their 21 attempts in the first quarter and then 13 of 26 in the second. Denver showed some spirit late in the second quarter as they were able to grind a 15 point lead down to ten and Melo missed a very makeable shot as time ran down that would have cut it to eight. It certainly seemed the game was within reach. The hope for the Nuggets was the law of averages had pushed through a correction and the second half would be better for the Denver.
Surprisingly, the law of averages was not appeased by the Pacers hot first half shooting. It had something special in store for this contest. During a live NBA game the Pacers proceeded to make 20 straight shots. It was not just a layup line either. 13 of the 20 shots that were converted came from more than 15 feet out. Eight of them were from beyond the arc. The final tally was brutal, 54 points, 20 of 21 shooting (the final shot of the quarter was a miss as Josh McRoberts launched a three pointer which left everyone who was aware of what was going on, i.e. the Pacers’ bench, begging for him to dribble the ball off of his foot to preserve the perfect 20-20 quarter). As you can imagine, the efficiency numbers were through the roof. Over 25 possessions third quarter possessions the pacers 54 points converts to an offensive efficiency of 216.0! Indiana had a true shooting percentage (which is basically total points divided by two points for every shot attempted) of 1.08 and an effective field goal percentage (a stat that incorporates the extra point made from behind the arc) of 1.14.
You would think that was enough. The law of averages would certainly be happy with the state of the Pacers after near perfection in the third quarter right? Even after shooting 44-68 through three quarters Indiana continued in the fourth quarter to convert 12-19 shots.
For the Nuggets it is difficult to know what to think of a game like that. It was the fourth game in five nights while the Pacers had been sitting at home waiting for this game for four days (that is simply ridiculous, but certainly a topic for another day). The team is certainly dealing with trying to play hard despite the Carmelo rumors, which have to creep into your subconscious whether you want to admit it or not. Add a team that was hotter than the surface of the sun and things were stacked against the Nuggets.
Even so, what other elite level team loses games like this? Everyone has four games in five nights at some point. Everyone faces a red hot opponent. They may lose games they should win, but not like that.
The bottom line is Denver quit on the game. Maybe not each and every player, but as a team they capitulated. Is that OK? Everyone wants their team to scratch and claw for 48 minutes. With all the negatives Denver was dealing with in Indianapolis can we blame them for rolling over? Quite honestly, I do not think we can, but it is not promising.
I will leave you with this post script. On February 7, 2009 the Nuggets rolled into the swamps of New Jersey and lost to the Nets 114-70. It was the fourth game in five nights on an East Coast swing and Denver looked pathetic. They went on to win three nights later in Miami and ended a long losing streak in Orlando to the Magic, the Eastern Conference champs of that season the next night. You may recall three months later that Nuggets team was playing in the Western Conference finals.
As embarrassing as that outing was, look for Denver to put up a huge fight at home on TNT versus the undefeated Lakers. If they roll over in that one, it may be time to jump ship.
Additional Game 8 Nuggets
Unbelievable Advanced Game Stats:
Pace Factor: 99.2 – One of the fastest road games I can remember, Indy likes to run
Defensive Efficiency: 145.2 – Zoiks!
Offensive Efficiency: 113.9 – Could that number be any more meaningless?
By the way, in the Melo commercial in a small sample size the white team of Melos has a defensive efficiency of 200.0 while the blue team of Melos has a defensive efficiency of 300.0. Both are worse than the Nuggets were in Indy.