In the Denver Nuggets’ attempt to turn conventional wisdom on its head, score one for conventional wisdom. After posting exceptional offensive efficiency numbers early in the game, weathering a furious charge in the second and third quarters, and batting tooth and nail in the fourth Denver found themselves leading the Thunder 101-100 with three minutes left. They would not make another basket the rest of the night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder strike first and seize the series momentum in a hard fought battle on their home floor. As is the case with any tough loss there is no shortage of frustration over a game that at times Denver seemed to control. While both teams struggled to get into a comfortable flow tonight’s game was an exciting reminder that this is playoff basketball at it’s finest. It may not have been pretty, but after tonight any doubts about the intense physical nature of the series can be put to rest.
Unfortunately many of the concerns we had before the series came to fruition. Free-throw shooting and injury woes continue to be the fatal flaws this team cannot overcome without improvement. Overall my initial reaction is there is still so much that is equally encouraging. Unfortunately winning is all that matters and the Thunder greatly improve their chances of moving on having gained a head start. The onus is now on Denver to adjust with an already thin margin of error that just got a whole lot thinner.
With the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs already underway and the Nuggets opening series against the Thunder not far behind, it’s time to look back, forward and all around at the season that has been and the playoff season that might be. (more…)
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.
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.
In Arron Afflalo’s first game since coming back from re-aggravating his hamstring injury, the Denver Nuggets withstood a scrappy effort from the soon-to-be Anaheim Kings to once again win by a comfortable margin. (more…)
When you think of the Spurs, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Nuggets fans might be tempted to say flopping or a number of other four-letter words first, but when you really examine it beyond that I think of defense and championship team basketball. One of the untold stories of the year is the transformation of the San Antonio Spurs that’s seen them jump out to the league’s best record by far. They are now doing it with unselfish and efficient execution on offense first. Sound familiar? Tonight’s game in Denver actually featured the two best offensive teams in basketball. I know the Spurs were without Tim Duncan, but with the post-trade Nuggets undergoing their own transformation we may no longer be seeing San Antonio as the familiar team-oriented kryptonite to Denver’s attack. Nuggets fans have never been close to having a team in the Spurs’ championship mold and tonight’s game was another exciting reminder that big changes are coming and already here.
There are certain games at certain times of every season that I get a funny feeling about and just dread having to watch. In the past, it was the predictable slumps and offensive hell the Melo-era Nuggets so often fell into during big-time road games. After losing to Orlando in nothing short of heartbreaking fashion, it was an unwelcome case of déjà vu giving me that oh-so familiar feeling that tonight’s back-to-back in Miami would not be a fun one. It’s not that I haven’t been a believer in the remarkable strides this team has made in a short time playing together, I am just naturally skeptical of the Nuggets in big time “show up” games on the road. With that said, attempting to stay grounded about this team’s progress brings a certain understanding that maintaining an identity with grit and determination in a loss to a premiere team is nothing to sneer at. Call it complacency, but in my mind these last two losses are a sign that the NBA is taking notice and adjusting to a surprisingly tough team that is not without flaws – and crashing the new-look Nuggets party like this might be something that needed to happen.
Tonight’s game against the Magic was just that: magical. There was magic happening in all corners at Amway Center this evening. The act of disappearing was in full effect as balls that looked to be in people’s hands suddenly were found in the laps of those in the front row. Also illusion was extremely prevalent, where feet that appeared to be in-bounds were called out. But my favorite had to the failed attempts between numerous players to try and teleport the basketball through their opponent to another teammate. Yes magic was everywhere the day after St. Patrick was honored around the world by noble citizens who paid homage to the patron saint by downing as many Jagerbombs as possible. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, “hangovers + magic” isn’t the best equation when it comes to winning basketball games. (more…)
A win in Energy Solutions Arena is not the cherished prize it used to be. The Utah Jazz have lost seven straight games at home, something that has not happened since 1982 (according to TNT and my memory of what was said on TNT). Even so, do not take anything away from the Denver Nuggets won once again in the new Team Play Era over Utah knocking the plummeting Jazz into tenth in the West.
It is quite strange to see these two rivals player each other now. For years we have seen the deadly Utah flex offense lead by one of the best point guards in the league picking apart the Nuggets defense with the fiery Jerry Sloan roaming the sidelines. On the Nuggets’ side it has been explosive scorers and fast paced frenetic offense. My how things have changed.
When I sat down tonight to watch the Denver Nuggets take on the Charlotte Bobcats, I certainly did not expect to see the Nuggets pull off the fifth biggest margin of victory in franchise history. But… THAT JUST HAPPENED! (more…)
A few days ago I received an e-mail from an acquaintance asking me if I’d like to accept his tickets to the Denver Nuggets annual Sixth-Man Jam event. Surprised, but happily willing to jump at the opportunity, I accepted and boy am I glad I did.