The Denver Nuggets clinched the three seed after smashing the Suns by 20 points in their final home game of the year. The sun sets on a historic regular season as the Nuggets now await their first round playoff opponent, either Houston or Golden State.
UPDATE: The Nuggets will face the Golden State Warriors in a 3-6 first round matchup with home court advantage. Playoffs start Saturday, April 20, at 3:30 p.m. MST, then continue on Tuesday, April 23, at 8:30 p.m. MST; Friday, April 26, at 8:30 p.m. MST; and Sunday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. MST. All other games are TBD.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +15
I haven’t loved Koufos’ energy as of late but he continues to provide the most solid perimeter defense of all Nuggets bigs and really proved why his steadiness has made him the starter all season long. Kosta finally finished a few shots and provided some toughness inside, encouraging signs as he works his way back into form for the playoffs.
|Ty Lawson, PG 23 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +15
He came in, took care of business and got the Nuggets through it with the least amount of work necessary. Lawson has been superb since returning from a torn plantar fascia in his right foot and was able to get a comfortable amount of rest after burying the Suns early on in the action.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 8-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +15
Chandler also destroyed Phoenix from the outset and was able to cruise the rest of the way. His energy has been big for the starting lineup. He continues to play well and look healthy at the right time of the year. Offensively, he’s really hitting his stride and finishing everything at a very high rate.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 31 MIN | 8-14 FG | 4-6 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +14
A dominating performance. It doesn’t look it, but he was all over the young Suns guards so badly it just didn’t look fair. See my additional notes in the ‘things we saw’ section for more on Iguodala’s award-worthy regular season.
|Evan Fournier, SG 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +19
Fournier did a little less with his minutes than usual but was still fantastic. He is proving to be one of the best system players on Denver’s roster, often finding himself in the right place at the right time to finish an easy shot or make the proper defensive rotation. He may have forced one or two shots which had me bump his grade down a notch.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 22 MIN | 4-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 14 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +3
Randolph was honestly a mix. Offensively he had a great night after an epic disaster against Milwaukee. Defensively he alternated between soft and great. He recorded some nice chase down blocks, but didn’t really body up any of the Suns bigs inside and gave up too many easy second shot opportunities. This was one of his better stats games of the year and the Nuggets won big, but for me it wasn’t the confidence-booster it could have been.
|Quincy Miller, SF 4 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -1
|Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +7
Still not a factor offensively, but I like him shooting less and focusing more on the in between parts of his game. He cannot be amazing in transition every game and we have seen him try and give a better effort in making positive things happen in the half-court. You want him to be playing better right now but he has not been a negative since hitting another slump on offense.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 11 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | 0
This guy can play and make shots, he just hasn’t fit into the rest of the picture enough to warrant a role. It’s good to see the forgotten man of the roster get a little bit of burn in the final game of the season.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 20 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -1
Solid. A double-double after not having played any significant minutes all season is incredible. It took not only hard work but confidence for Mozgov to have this kind of game despite clear signs of rust all over his game. He likely won’t do much except bolster Denver’s depth in playoffs but I loved Mozgov’s game tonight.
|JaVale McGee, C 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +8
A bad game, full of frustration fouls and predictably sloppy effort on the defensive end. He was routinely abused on the glass and eventually lost his cool in the third quarter as the Nuggets were nursing a 20-point lead. That kind of volatility casts some doubts over his reliability come playoff time.
|Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +6
Not much better than he’s been playing recently, which has been really bad. Andre Miller made some nice plays at the end of the Milwaukee game and marginally increased his effort against Phoenix, but he’s just playing poorly as the playoffs approach. There’s no nice way to put it. Hopefully something changes and he gets it going in the postseason.
Should Karl win Coach of the Year? He at least deserves to be considered on equal footing with anyone else. This is an incredibly strong finish to a wildly successful season. Honestly no one deserves more immediate credit for it than Karl. There have been so many obstacles and excuses to pack in it at the end of a weird season, and Karl figured out a way to pull through.
Three Things We Saw
- One for the Ages: Here’s just a few of the new franchise records set by the 2012-2013 Denver Nuggets: 15 straight overall, 23 straight at home, and of course a record 57 wins, Denver’s most ever in the NBA. The Nuggets also finished with a dominant 38-3 home record, one of the best on record in NBA history. This team has been special and we may never see another Nuggets squad make so much history in a single season.
- Getting defensive: It was a comfortable win with seemingly no cause for alarm, but Denver’s performance on the defensive boards was shockingly bad. They allowed a tired, undermanned Suns squad to grab 15 offensive boards in the first half following a tough back-to-back. The second half was better, but the Nuggets clearly need Faried back or there’s no reason they won’t continue to give up tons of second shot opportunities without much of a fight. JaVale and Randolph in particular have to be much better at keeping their man off the glass.
- DPOY: Iguodala made several spectacular defensive plays highlighting a deserving campaign to win defensive player of the year. He stopped multiple fast breaks by himself and once again showed that on an individual level, he wins his defensive matchup more consistently than just about any player in basketball. It’s very unfortunate the defensive shortcomings of the rest of his team so often obscure his monumental impact on that end of the floor. If he comes in any lower than second in the voting it’s an even bigger travesty.