With the current Denver Nuggets squad far surpassing any expectations fans had following the historic Carmelo Anthony trade, it’s now time to start seriously looking at whether or not another 50-win season is approaching. With nine games left to play and our current record sitting at 44-29, you’d think 50 wins would be easily attainable considering how hot the Nuggets have been as of late, but like all teams not named the Miami Heat, the final stretch of games in the NBA season is almost guaranteed to be tough.
The “Knuggets,” as people across the NBA universe are calling them now, start things off on Wednesday, March 30, against the Sacramento Queens (sorry, I had to) — or Kings as you might have heard them referred to as before — at home in the Can. This one from a far seems to be a lock for a “W,” being as the Kings are one of the NBA’s worst teams (20-52) and simply don’t have the talent to keep up with the Nuggets on their home floor. So, let’s just pencil this one in as a win.
Total Wins: 45
Two days later, on April Fool’s Day (Ugh, I’m already not liking the sound of it.) the Nuggets then travel to the soon-to-be defunct of Kings basketball, Arco Arena to to face the Kings on their home-floor. Now usually when you’re playing a team back-to-back — once on your home-floor and once on their home-floor — you can almost always count on the two teams splitting the games. I don’t know why, but for some reason that’s how things work in the NBA, whether it be a level of pride or something else, this is just how it always seems to go down. But… lets keep in mind, we are talking about the atrocious Sacramento Kings here, and although we had one of our most miserably embarrassing losses to them earlier this season, we now have a totally different team that’s shown vast improvement on the road. So, once again, let’s pencil this one in as a win as well, because although the Kings might try to pull a fast one on us by playing with a revived sense of urgency and heart being these might be the team’s last few games in Sacramento ever, you’ve got to believe this Knuggets team won’t be having any of it.
Total Wins: 46
And this is where things start to get interesting. On Sunday, April 3, our beloved Nuggets will be in L.A. going against the Lakers for some NBA afternoon delight beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST. Not only will we be on the road, facing the Lakers, in L.A., who by the way are just a nightmare matchup for us, but we’ll be coming off only one day’s rest in which we played the Kings late (10:00 p.m. EST) just a few nights before. My guess is George will probably try and get the guys some rest on Saturday so that they can come in refreshed in an attempt to try and tame “The Black Mamba,” but even that likely won’t be enough to get the job done. Though I can see us winning this one, it’s probably best we play it safe considering the Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 games, and pencil it in as a loss.
Total Wins: 46
After a tough road loss against the two-time defending champs, the Nuggets are back home to face the Thunder on April 5. Once again a tough opponent, the Thunder have been just as hot — if not hotter — as the Nuggets recently. With Kenrick Perkins now in the lineup and the block-master himself Serge “Iblaka” (It’s really Ibaka with no “l,” but you get the point.) taking over the power forward duties full time, the Thunder’s once lone-weakness (front-court) is now a strength. Much like the Lakers and Nuggets, the Thunder have seemingly found a new gear since the Perkins trade and are as legitimate of a title contender as there is out West. I see this being a tight-fought game the entire night, but the Nuggets on their home-floor should once again prove to be too much to handle. Count this one as a win as well.
Total Wins: 47
Ahhh, the lovely back-to-back. Nothing like it in the NBA. It’s really the one opportunity to catch teams off-guard on a consistent basis and nearly everyone is smart enough — or good enough — to take advantage, except for maybe the Cavaliers. Luckily for the Nuggets it’s their second to last of the season, but unluckily for the Nuggets it comes on the road against the Dallas Mavericks. There’s really not much more to be said. The Mavs are a great team, and will be fighting for a high seed, so I can’t really see them losing this one. Again, the great thing about this Nuggets team is that any game is winnable, but still, we’ll tally this one up as a loss all things considered.
Total Wins: 47
Two nights after the loss in Dallas we’ll see the “Knuggets” (Sorry if I’m annoying anybody with this little “knickname,” but I find it kind of catchy.) take on the Thunder once again, but this time in “LOOOOOUD CITY” (What the hell does that mean anyways?) as they like to call it, also known as: Oklahoma City. Again, winnable? No doubt about it. But the road seems to be George Karl’s least favorite thing in the world right next to starting JR Smith, so we’ll have to consider this one a loss too.
Total Wins: 47… still
Finally, our last back-to-back and it couldn’t come against a better opponent (And by “better” I mean strictly for the Nuggets and our post-season aspirations, not “better” as in an actual good team. I mean come on, we’re talking about…): the Minnesota Timberwolves. This game will be at home, and the Nuggets will be looking to kick some ass after losing to the Thunder the night before, so do it up as a win baby! (One thing to keep your eye on in this game is a man by the name of Anthony Randolph. Some of you might have heard of him before, and if you haven’t, he’s basically the guy the Wolves traded a future first-rounder to us for in that one huge trade you might have heard about that went down not too long ago with some guy named Carmelo Anthony. Yeah. Anyways, Randolph is a finger-lickin’ prospect if I’ve ever seen one. The dude has all the physical tools in the world, but for some reason — similar to JR Smith — he just can’t seem to get it together. But since Kevin Love went out and Randolph got the starting nod, he’s been killing it to the the tune of a 31-point, 11-rebound, 3-assists, 2-steal and 1-block performance as well as a 24-point, 15-rebound, 2-assist, 1-steal and 1-block one as well. In both games he shot above 60 percent from the field and was perfect from the line. This is one guy I really wanted the Nuggets to try and get out of the Knicks, and maybe now you can see why.)
Total Wins: 48
Next up, the Nuggets will face the Golden State Warriors on Monday, April 11 at home. Not much to be said, except for the fact that there is no excuse to lose this game. It’s a crucial time for us, and it’s not for the Warriors as they’re already out of the playoffs and have nothing to play for really. Of course, that’s what scares me. But it shouldn’t scare our squad, and I’m confident they won’t be rattled. Win number 49 should be in the books after this one.
Total Wins: 49
And thus, we arrive at the last game of the season, against the division rival Utah Jazz , on the road — how fitting. The Jazz might still be fighting for a playoff spot at this point in time, but it’s not likely. Either way, they’re going to play as they always do in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have had a rough season to say the least, with franchise point guard Deron Williams being jettisoned to our favorite Russian billionaire’s team the New Jersey Nets, and Jerry Sloan — the longest tenured coach in the NBA — having retired just before that. In hindsight, it probably would have been nice to talk things over, keep one, and let the other move on; but unfortunately for the Jazz… thaaaat…didn’t exactly happen. Hey, good for us right? Bottom line is that the Jazz simply don’t have the talent to compete with this Nuggets squad, and even though it’s the last home game of the season, it only seems fitting that our feel-good success story be topped off with a win, while the Jazz’s depressing, disaster of a year concludes with a loss.
Total Wins: 50!!!
Now, back to the title. In case you are unaware, the Denver Nuggets have currently completed three consecutive 50-win seasons for the first time in the history of it’s NBA career. Though you do not win anything for accomplishing this feat, it’s largely thought of in NBA circles around the world as the measuring stick for a good season. Even if we don’t get to 50-wins, it won’t matter because everybody is having the time of their life riding this team-oriented locomotive to success, but four consecutive 50-win seasons still means a lot in my opinion. It means stability, respect, optimism. It means every year you come into the season knowing, and not just thinking, that it’s going to be a good one. It means you, and all the talking heads who always doubted you, are forced to look at your favorite franchise and say, “We’re one of the best in the league right now.” Hopefully, the Quadruple 50-win is completed with flawless execution by season’s end.