The Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder are both teams who benefited significantly from midseason trades. Each squad tore through the league over the final few weeks of the season and as a result we have had plenty of evidence for what these teams can do. To make things even more interesting we have two games worth of film to study, with both teams hosting the other late in the season.
The question is how germane were the results of those two games to the playoff series we are about to experience? Denver played both games against the Thunder without their third big, Chris “Birdman” Andersen and starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo. Obviously Denver is a better team with those two than without them. Health is certainly going to be a very important theme in this series and we will address those concerns a bit further down the page.
Despite the Nuggets missing some significant pieces I believe both games gave us some fairly significant insights into what to expect from the upcoming best of seven conflagration.
Denver Nuggets fans have endured months of trade rumors, post-trade declarations of irrelevance and more recently, some exciting and inspiring basketball. It was all prelude to this. The Denver Nuggets will match up with division rival Oklahoma City in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
The two teams faced off twice last week that saw some heated moments between big men Nene and Kendrick Perkins and some bad blood brewing with Kenyon Martin and Serge Ibaka. Raymond Felton has gone on record of saying he wanted to clash with the Thunder because they talk a lot of trash and he wants some payback.
Whether the series lasts four games or seven, it is going to be physical and intense. Of course, this is the playoffs and it should not be any other way.
After a valiant effort in which the Nuggets only played seven players for the majority of the night, the Utah Jazz finally pulled away in the waning seconds of the game to win the season finale on it’s home floor. (more…)
Tonight the Denver Nuggets defeated the Golden State Warriors to reach the 50-win plateau for the fourth consecutive season. Along the way nine Nuggets reached double figures in scoring — one short of the team record 10 — and professional pine-rider (or should I say, “former” profesional pine-rider) Kosta Koufos had perhaps the best game of his young career scoring 18 points and nine rebounds in only 19 minutes of action. (more…)
After Oklahoma City’s impressive victory over the Lakers on Sunday night, the crowded playoff picture in the West just got even more interesting. The Nuggets have a two game lead for the fifth seed and assuming they hold on against Portland’s tiebreaker it is now conceivable they could face the Lakers in addition to Dallas and Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs.
As any Nuggets fan can attest this NBA season has been an exhausting journey. As a tumultuous season ends in another close battle for playoff positioning it is important to remember you still get to play the Timberwolves at least once.
On December 18th the shorthanded Nuggets notched a key win in Minnesota after having won only twice in their previous 11 road games. On December 10th 2008 it was against the Timberwolves when Carmelo tied George Gervin’s record by scoring 33 points in one quarter. Whether by pure luck or divine intervention there is something about the Nuggets playing the Timberwolves that just makes great things happen. On April 9th 2011 it was another record-setting night against Minnesota and starting point guard Ty Lawson was at the center of it.
Since the trade of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, one of the more interesting storylines of the season has been the Nuggets’ success abandoning a conventional star-centric roster for more of a team-oriented approach. While there’s no doubt Denver’s transformation has re-invigorated the team by allowing more of the role players to shine at once, it’s the Oklahoma City Thunder and their two-man show that’s consistently outclassed their Northwest Division rivals and most of the western conference as well.
One day after being benched for the entire fourth quarter in a close game, JR Smith was given a second chance by head coach George Karl and sent a message through his effort on the court. That message: If you want to win close games, you better let me play. (more…)
If basketball were a semester of college drinking, this game would be classified as The Hangover. After coming off one of the best wins of the season against the Lakers on Sunday — just like a wild night of partying — the concerns of the after-effects were the last thing on our minds. But tonight, we were sobered up and pushed back into the realm of reality as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant reminded us that, as Prince would say, “Parties weren’t meant to last.” (more…)
After Kenyon Martin put back a missed free-throw by Nene to clinch the Nuggets 95-90 victory of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, emotion spilled out of the gritty power forward in the form of expletives aimed at the silicone-infused celebrities strung along the court-side seats at Staples Center. For Nuggets fans, this was a moment when we vicariously said what we’ve wanted to for a really long time, and thanks to Kenyon Martin, we got that opportunity without having to deal with the repercussions.