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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Pickaxe Pulse for April 18, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets at the end of the season

The Nuggets went undefeated in the last week of the season to clinch the third seed in the Western Conference.  Kenneth Faried sprained his ankle early in Sunday’s game against Portland and sat out the rest of the week; he is listed as day-to-day entering the playoffs.  In a closer than expected game against the Trailblazers, Evan Fournier capped his career high 24 point night with two late three pointers to seal the 118-109 win.  The next night in Milwuakee, Ty Lawson hit a go-ahead jumper with nine seconds left and the defense held on for a 112-111 victory.  The Nuggets jumped out to a big lead early against the Suns in the season finale on Wednesday, giving the end of the bench a chance to show their stuff.  All twelve healthy Nuggets players made at least one basket and grabbed at least one rebound in the 118-98 win.  Andre Iguodala averaged 20 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 2.3 blocks for the week.

Record this week: 3-0 (2-0 home, 1-0 road)

Overall record and standings: 57-25, third seed in the West.

Upcoming: the Nuggets have home court advantage in a first round playoff series against Golden State.  Game 1 is on Saturday.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118 Phoenix Suns 98

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.
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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.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112, Milwaukee Bucks 111

In an ugly, frustrating, poorly officiated game, the first of the season without Kenneth Faried’s energy to help keep them afloat, the Nuggets survived their final regular season road outing to clinch home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and put themselves one home win away from locking up the third seed. (more…)

Faried out until playoffs

According to Nuggets beat reporter Aaron Lopez, Kenneth Faried will be sidelined the remainder of the regular season with a sprained foot. There is no tear and he will likely be ready for the playoffs.

55: Reflecting on a new franchise milestone

There was muted celebration in the building following the Denver Nuggets’ franchise record 55th win against the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday, enough to cast a subtle gloom over the history being witnessed by a Pepsi Center crowd of Nuggets faithful.

Considering the circumstances, it’s easy to understand why.  Denver lost another starter to injury but ultimately escaped a must-win game, bringing the season-long goal of the third-seed tantalizingly close but still barely out of reach. Like an audience trapped in suspended disbelief at a good movie, Nuggets fans are eagerly awaiting the final twists and turns that set up the climactic moment they’ve all been waiting for.

Until that plays out and we see these Nuggets tested in the sacred arena of the NBA playoffs, any judgments about this team’s place in franchise history seem premature. The true gravity of becoming the Nuggets’ winningest team ever may not be felt until then, but the very fact we’ve arrived here in the midst of a bigger goal is an opportunity to reflect on the process behind what is now a historic achievement.
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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118- Portland Trailblazers 109

The Nuggets defeated a bad, tanking Trailblazer team to win their franchise record 55th game this season. The Nuggets were up 18 in the second half and let the game get closer in the fourth quarter but were able to put the game away thanks to a dominant effort from Andre Iguodala and a great game from Evan Fournier. On a down note Denver lost Kenneth Faired with an ankle injury which right now is being reported as a sprain. Faried is listed as day-to-day at this point.

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Pickaxe Pulse for April 13, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets tied their NBA franchise record for wins in a season by defeating San Antonio on Wednesday, and had a chance to break the record in Dallas on Friday, but came up short in overtime.  Andre Iguodala led the way against the Spurs with a triple double and JaVale McGee’s four blocks helped spark the bench in the comeback win.  In Dallas, Corey Brewer’s tying basket off of an Andre Miller steal brought up memories of the previous week’s heroics against the Mavericks, but in the end, poor shooting and poor defense were the Nuggets’ undoing.

Record this week: 1-1 (1-0 home, 0-1 road)

Current record and standings: 54-25, third seed in the Western Conference, tied with Memphis and 1 game ahead of the Clippers.  The Nuggets hold the tiebreaker over Memphis due to head-to-head play, while the Clippers hold the tiebreaker over both Memphis and Denver due to winning their division.

Upcoming games: Sunday vs Portland, Monday at Milwaukee, Wednesday vs Phoenix

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105 at Dallas Mavericks 108, OT

The Nuggets came up with a series of big plays late in regulation to tie the game, but couldn’t get it done in the extra period, falling to Dallas 108-105.

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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…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 96, San Antonio Spurs 86

San Antonio Spurs 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -18

Faried was quite bad, getting routinely abused on defense despite San Antonio having no one remotely athletic enough to match up with him. Couple that with a measly one offensive rebound and it sure looks like he was simply outhustled and outworked by a hobbled, inexperienced Spurs front line. He made a big defensive play and secured a key rebound late, but his 25 minutes were pretty generous considering the way he played most of the night.

Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10

Koufos had a confusing game. He’s never been much of a rim protector but he normally beats opposing bigs to the paint and takes away the easy angles. Koufos’ paint defense alternated between sublime and uninspired in this one, but he saved his best play for when the Nuggets needed it most. At this point I expect some consistency and something more than a total zero on offense, where Koufos seems to have lost some confidence.

Andre Miller, PG 34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -7

Miller was not a net positive in this game. He was a spectator for the first 10 minutes and most every meaningful stretch of play. Miller closed the game like a pro and his ability to make free throws and manufacture offense paid off late, but he was not on the floor for the crucial stretches where Denver looked dominant.

Wilson Chandler, SG 41 MIN | 11-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 29 PTS | +6

What a great performance, and it’s really easy to forget that Wilson has already scored 30+ two other times this season, both off the bench. Wilson caught fire in the second half and practiced much better shot selection than we’ve seen in the past. He stayed off the midrange stuff the entire night and created several running opportunities with his defense. He has not missed a beat since moving into the starting five.

Andre Iguodala, SG 43 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-4 FT | 13 REB | 10 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 12 PTS | +5

Yes, he had seven turnovers and still hasn’t looked decent on offense all year. He also nabbed the first triple-double by any Nugget since Marcus Camby in 2008 exactly one game after predicting he’d soon get one. There were a lot of things working against the Nuggets early and Iguodala’s unwavering effort anchored the defensive push that got Denver back in the game and kept them there.

Anthony Randolph, PF 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +6

I gave his grade a bump because he looked good as part of an uptempo bench that reinvigorated the Nuggets’ transition attack. Brewer went nuclear off the bench so it just wasn’t his night to see many minutes.

Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 12-25 FG | 2-5 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 28 PTS | +30

Is this not a match made in heaven? Teams generally don’t want bench players hoisting 25 shots a game but Brewer’s outburst was just what the Nuggets needed after starting the game with two Miller turnovers followed by two Miller isos and predictably, zero points. Karl went small with Brewer early which paid immediate dividends for Denver’s anemic offense. I worry about where else Brewer will play if the Nuggets can’t bring him back because this is just too fun to watch.

JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +18

Much like Brewer did for the offense, we saw a drastic change in the Denver defense pre-McGee and post-McGee. Denver was flat out soft in the paint until his resounding arrival in the second quarter with three huge blocks. JaVale capped off a nice night with an improved effort on the defensive glass and his second straight game with no turnovers

Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +20

He should have played much more. Fournier was assertive with the ball in his hands and was the Nuggets second-best creator behind Iguodala. He wasn’t great on defense and didn’t have his shot going but the guy showed remarkable poise under pressure and has a knack for finding Denver the right kind of shots. With Lawson out and the offense quite frankly struggling under an overused Andre Miller, he could use more minutes.

George Karl

Karl waited way too long to get Miller out of the game. Other than that, his adjustments worked and he got the most out of a small Brewer-Chandler lineup San Antonio had no answer for. He’s pushing his players hard and getting results, but Koufos, Miller, and Chandler all looked gassed after long second-half stints with no relief. Karl should be more trusting of his bench, who clearly got him the win and turned around one of the most dreadful starts in recent memory.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Expect San Antonio to pick and roll the Nuggets a lot more when healthy. The Nuggets were not bad defensively but a lot of San Antonio’s struggles on offense were self-inflicted. They stopped attacking the weak side after a wildly successful 14-0 opening run in favor of a perimeter based attack off just one or two passes. Great victory for Denver but this was an unusually flat Spurs offense and I still think this is the playoff matchup the Nuggets must avoid for as long as possible.

Is Masai Ujiri eying a Greek freak in the draft?

Last week Chris Sheridan broke the news that Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri had recently made a trip overseas to scout one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. His name is Giannis Adetokunbo. He’s 6-9. He’s freakishly athletic. And he regularly plays point guard for his team in Greece. Did I mention he’s a 6-9 freak who regularly plays point guard?

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