It’s hard to understand (or even grasp the concept for that matter) what heaven must be like. Undoubtedly arriving in such a palatial and euphoric location would be blissful on the highest level. And though we can’t exactly embrace that feeling until we get there, we can certainly estimate as to how it might be. Watching the Denver Nuggets since the landmark Carmelo Anthony trade, one can only assume, is just like heaven. I really can’t describe how fun it is to be a fan of this team right now. As the game tonight against the Hawks concluded I had a plethora of concepts floating around in my head as to how I would cover it, but when it finally came time to write, nothing evolved. I was frozen. The best way I can describe what happened is that I reached a point where words, I felt, wouldn’t do justice as to how awesome it is watching the Nuggets these days. I can sit here and say, “Man what an exhilarating win!” and “I love this team!!!” but no matter how many adjectives or exclamation points I use, I will never be able to transfer my state of mind through this computer unto you, the reader. You really just have to see it yourself to know what it’s like.
In trying to think back to recent periods where I felt this good about Nuggets I could only recall a few stretches in Chauncey’s first year. I think it’s an incredibly satisfying experience watching a team really perform to all of it’s abilities, and that in my estimation is what we are seeing once again with the Nuggets. Last year, because expectations were so high, even when we were playing great basketball it wasn’t nearly as exciting, possibly because it was expected. So maybe that’s it. Maybe the element of surprise is what makes winning at the clip we are so thrilling. One thing is for sure though, the last time we felt this good about the Nuggets they made their deepest playoff push in franchise history.
But, enough with my selfish diatribe, there was a game that was played tonight and here’s what happened…
Basically all you need to know is that the Nuggets came out of the gate sloppy, stale, lethargic and tired-looking only to suddenly find life midway through the second quarter which thankfully continued all the way through the final buzzer. Admittedly I was a bit nervous in the first quarter. I’ve been closely watching this team for a long time now and I know how they tend to be on the road when the chips are down. In the past, we’ve seen the Nuggets give half-hearted efforts in these types of games in which a MElo chuck-fest would ensue while everyone else stands around watching. But thankfully that trend is no longer present. This team now knows it takes a combined effort from everyone if they want to win, and it seemed this came to fruition sometime in the second quarter as our play went from disorganized one-on-one to well-executed team basketball in one cohesive stretch.
The Hawks remind me a lot of the Nuggets during the Melo Era: tons of talent, but lacking the mental focus it takes to be the best they can be. Sometimes the Hawks bring it, and other times they totally disappear with last season’s first round performance being a prime example. They’re the classic “Box of Chocolates” theory team in that you never know what you’re gonna get. Tonight they played well, but clearly didn’t want it as much as the Nuggets and you could see that throughout the game. They’d knock down a shot to keep it close, and occasionally make a momentum-swinging play, but never did anything they do catalyze into something significant. Meanwhile the Nuggets, led by Nene, were making big-time blocks, ferocious dunks and sneaky steals one after another.
The previously mentioned Ty-to-Nene combo (we’ve got to come up with a name for this) was once again in full effect tonight. I stated a while back that Nene would be the biggest beneficiary of Ty’s promotion to the starting PG spot, and tonight might have been the best example so far of that proclamation. Nene finished the evening off with 20 points on 6-12 from the field and 8-9 from the line, while also snagging seven boards, two assists and four blocks. Ty on the other hand had a rough night shooting as he went 2-6 from the field on his way to nine points, but made up for it by dishing out 10 assists in only 26 minutes. Wilson Chandler had a good night scoring 14 points and hauling down 10 rebounds while JR perhaps sealed the game shut with his clutch shooting from downtown. JR scored two consecutive 3-pointers at about the 6:30 minute mark of the fourth quarter when the game was still somewhat close, and scored 15 points overall in only 21 minutes of action. The JR love/hate relationship continues to blossom with every passing game.
Chunks of Gold:
— Am I the only one who absolutely loves Wilson Chandler? Dude is the embodiment of a no-nonsense utility player in the NBA. He does it all, rebounds, shoots, blocks, etc. and goes about his business in a silent, almost assassin-like manor. He’s just the perfect, solid player you want on your team going into battle.
— I had a revelation about Ty tonight. The guy is consistently the best player on the court these days. I know, it feels weird saying that but it’s true. Even going up against players like Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith I can honestly say Ty has the most impact on the floor.
— The lineup of Bird at C and Al at PF nearly killed us in the third quarter. I will never understand George’s logic behind his rotations, but even more so I will never understand why he’ll continue to play them when it’s obvious they aren’t working.
— Over the last week Ty Lawson is averaging 19 and 11 with 3 steals per game while shooting nearly .600 percent from the field. Nene is almost equally as good averaging 16 and 10 on .700 from the field.
— Following the game Al Horford had this to day about the Nuggets: “They’re a great team. We play like that at times. Other times, we don’t. We’d be a better team if we played like them.” I don’t know how much more complimentary it gets than that. I mean, when you got a player from a rival, professional team saying he wishes his squad could be more like yours, that’s special. You know you’re doing the right thing when that happens.
It’s now time that we as fans must ask, “Can pure depth overpower star talent when it comes to a seven game series in the playoffs?” If so, it would be a remarkable development in the world of today’s NBA. With so much made over the Miami Heat’s recent construction (which likely led to the departure of Carmelo Anthony to New York to form his own super squad) there’s something to be said about depth. Looking at our team, we’re by far the deepest team in the entire league, and by “by far,” I mean by faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar. Can our bench be the difference in a seven game series against a team with more star power? Can a team with virtually no “superstars” really beat the Dirk Nowitzkis, Kevin Durants and Kobe Bryants out West? I’m eager to find out, and if the answer to either of the above questions is “yes” it will undoubtedly be one of the most fascinating occurrences we’ve seen in recent sports memory, and maybe then will we truly know what heaven feels like.