Opinion: Firing Karl not the answer

The greatest regular season in Denver Nuggets history deserved a better ending.

No one expected a return to the postseason irrelevance of Karl’s previous Nuggets teams, who frequently battled near impossible odds against heavily favored contenders on the road. This team was different. They were the favorites, having built a 57-win three-seed around a young core just one year removed from taking the Lakers to 7 games.

So what happened?

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Reaction: Nuggets 88, Warriors 92 – Another 1st round exit for Denver

Capitalizing on the many mistakes made by the Warriors down the stretch, the Nuggets put themselves in a position to win this game near the end. They closed the deficit to just two points with 32 seconds remaining after having trailed by as many as 18 earlier in the fourth quarter. But with poor offensive execution in those final seconds, punctuated with symbolic flair by a missed Andre Miller 3-pointer on their final possession, they ultimately fell short of a comeback, and fell to their ninth first round playoff exit in ten seasons, eight (or seven) under the tenure of George Karl.

There is a lot that could be said about this one game. But it was essentially a microcosm and extension of the entire series. The Nuggets were (more…)

Game 6 Preview: Why Harrison Barnes is Hurting the Nuggets

As George Karl was forced to make adjustments to counteract Stephen Curry and the Warriors new small ball lineup in the series, two main thoughts started to pop up. First let Curry get his points and limit his teammates and second play a big lineup, like Denver has done all season long with two traditional bigs instead of Wilson Chandler at the power forward spot.

Unfortunately for the Nuggets, despite a victory in Game 5, doing those things may not be possible together. One of the important parts of the Nuggets playing with two bigs is Kenneth Faried playing Harrison Barnes on the defensive end. But Faried has struggled a bit in that role as his unfamiliarity of defensive rotations has allowed Barnes to get a lot of open shot attempts, some he has knocked down and some he hasn’t. The following are four examples of the problems Faried has had, three makes and a miss, from Game 5 when Barnes had 23 points.

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You don’t tug on Superman’s cape

Over the last three games the Denver Nuggets have morphed into a team unrecognizable to those who followed them in the regular season. The team that won a franchise record 57 games — and tacked on a 15-game winning streak in the process — has disappeared before our eyes. Though it’s easy to become memorized by the demigod known as Stephen Curry, it’s worth noting that less than two weeks ago Denver was the team whom fans and annalists alike were salivating over — not Golden State.

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Rapid Reaction Game 4: Denver Nuggets 101- Golden State Warriors 115 (GSW lead 3-1)

The process.

Those are going to be the words that Nuggets fans hear a lot between now and Game 5, between the end of the season and the draft.

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Quick thoughts before a pivotal Game 4

After a thrilling loss like that, you need a day just to absorb everything. A 2-1 series hole looms over all the good in game three, where I thought the Nuggets did a better job reacting to small ball than they did in game two. Ty Lawson is turning a pretty good series into a great one but the Golden State Warriors and the emergence of Steph Curry are the definitive stories of this first round matchup. The Warriors weren’t pleased with their game 3 performance and are still in position to take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Sunday, which would effectively make the Nuggets a long shot to get out of the first round… again.

For all the good the Nuggets did in game 3, they still can’t defend the Golden State Warriors, whose offense sure came back down to earth – all the way from 74.3% eFG in game 2 to 57.5% in game 3. That just won’t get it done in the playoffs. Obviously there’s a lot to worry about but as bad as the Nuggets’ issues have been, they still have a chance to essentially hit the reset button on the series with a win tonight.

While we wait to see if the Nuggets can seize that opportunity in a pivotal game four, which is obviously huge, here are some bullet point thoughts on what worked and what didn’t in game three.

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Anthony Randolph busts the zone

There’s been some recent chatter about getting Anthony Randolph more involved in this first round series with Golden State, and for good reason. The agile 7-footer is actually Denver’s fifth-leading scorer in this series with 16 points in just 16 total minutes.

Randolph came on strong towards the end of the season, where he was a great source of paint points and rebounds when Faried went down. His defense, however, is inconsistent at best and Randolph is prone to forcing up bad shots and falling apart on the offensive end. Because JaVale McGee suffers from a lot of the same stuff and neither one of them can pass, it’s tough to bring both off the bench and George Karl has avoided even messing with it for most of the season.

With Golden State switching to guerilla tactics after the David Lee injury, this series is now small ball all the time and Randolph may have found himself a niche role against the Warriors zone defense, which they’ve favored for important stretches of the first two games.

Here are just a few examples of how Randolph has demonstrated his ability to successfully attack the zone.
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Reaction: Golden State Warriors 131, Denver Nuggets 117

The Nuggets hadn’t lost a home game in over three months. They also hadn’t given up 130 points in a game all year. Both of those trends changed on Tuesday night when the Nuggets submitted one of their worst performances of the year. The fact it came in the playoffs was both surprising and somewhat predictable.

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Lee out for remainder of series, Landry likely to see spike in minutes

According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Warriors forward David Lee will miss the remainder of the season with a torn right hip flexor. While nobody likes to see players seriously injured, it’s difficult to ignore how beneficial this is to the Nuggets’ chances of defeating the Warriors in the first round.

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Game 1 Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97- Golden State Warriors 95 (Nuggets lead series 1-0)

Thanks to an incredible offensive game that included the game winning bucket from Professor Miller the Nuggets took game 1, 97-95. Miller took over the game on the offensive side of the floor in the fourth quarter, willing the Nuggets to points. Defensively the Nuggets kept Stephen Curry in check for most of the game despite him hitting a three to tie the game up late.

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5-on-5: The first round and beyond

The Nuggets kick off their first series of the 2013 playoffs against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. With injuries still lingering and a rotation in flux, there are certainly questions to be answered — which is what we plan to do below. As always, please feel free to play along and submit your answers to each of the following questions in the comments section.

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Know Your Opponent: The Golden State Warriors

As the Nuggets get set to battle the Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference finals some Nuggets fans may be trying to get more familiar with the opponent. In an effort to help I put together some quick scouting reports on each player on the Warriors roster, from superstar Stephen Curry to superstar celebrator Kent Bazemore. Each report includes the player’s role, where they are the most dangerous offensively, and a ranking on how much Nuggets fans should be worried about a particular player, where a 1 being someone they can basically ignore up all the way to 5 who they should fear could swing a few games almost single handedly.

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Playoff positioning thread

As we speak the Nuggets are currently in third place in the Western Conference standings. But both the Clippers and Grizzlies are right on their heels. As Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post recently pointed out on Twitter, if the Nuggets win against the Suns tonight then the three seed is all theirs. There are all sorts of different playoff match-up possibilities still up in the air at this point, so please feel free to use this post as a thread to discuss these scenarios. And as always, thanks for continuing to support Roundball Mining Company.

Win over Spurs boosts Nuggets’ chances of clinching 3rd seed

In the race for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets greatly strengthened their position with their big Wednesday night victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

This cleared the most difficult remaining game on their schedule, and reduced their magic number (combination of own wins and opponent losses) with respect to both the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers to three. With four games remaining, Denver can lose one game and still clinch third even if Memphis and L.A. win out (though since they play each other, at least one of them can’t).

Here is a side-by-side look at the remaining schedules of the three teams competing for that third seed which carries the benefits of both home court advantage in the first round and a matchup with the No. 6 seed: (more…)

Nuggets well positioned to seize first round home court advantage

The Denver Nuggets recently clinched a berth in the 2013 NBA playoffs, meaning that they will soon be making their tenth consecutive postseason appearance. And while this is a very impressive streak, what they’ve managed to do less often is finish the regular season with a good enough record to secure home court advantage in the first round. (more…)

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