I’m not sure where the Nuggets offense went, it might be loss in Houston or Memphis but it is definitely not in Denver. The Nuggets haven’t broken 100 points for the third straight game Saturday and this one cost them a W. Of course it is easy to see what went wrong with this, there were three ball hogs who didn’t see a need to pass the ball.
Yes, we hear the same old thing from the team after every game. They lacked intensity, they weren’t ready to play, they had no energy. Yep, we’ve heard every excuse in the books from this squad. When will they learn to play with intensity? When will they get the energy? There is no question this squad, when healthy, is pretty much unstoppable. And it hurts seeing K-Mart and Ty Lawson in street clothes on the bench and it’s rough not seeing George Karl not coaching and knowing what he went through. But with how selfish Denver played Saturday none of them wouldn’t have had the answer.
In fact, probably the best answer was to bench Chauncey Billups, JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony and play the likes of Arron Afflalo, Joey Graham and AC in their spots. Because those three had one answer to the Nuggets being behind the Bucks on Saturday and that was shooting the ball. Combined the three shot the ball 62 times while the rest of the team shot the ball only 24 times. Hey, and guess what the trio only hit 24 shots. Maybe it might be a better option to pass the ball and set up your teammate. Just maybe.
Just look at the fourth quarter, Denver was behind and the trio weren’t willing to share the ball (the Nuggets as a team had two assists in the quarter). And that’s fine if your shot is going in but they weren’t. While Nene, who has been on a roll of late only shot the ball once in the fourth quarter and Joey Graham, who was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in the game was sitting on the bench. Something needed to be different.
It’s hard to get made at Adrian Dantley, his job is to be an assistant coach but he needs to have a better control of the team in Karl’s absence. And now the road trip begins.
First a trip to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday against the lowly Knicks, who can score points in bunches and should be in a tough battle with the Nuggets. Danilo Gallinari may be the killer for the Nuggets as they struggle against sharp-shooting big.
Then, it’s another back-to-back as the Celtics will be out for revenge. Boston won four straight games and three at home. Denver actually matches up well with Boston, but the Celts do have Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, who both can frustrate Nene and Billups.
Friday, the Nuggets will have their passports ready as they go to Toronto for another tough game against the Raptors, who are 23-11 at home. This is the only game on the road trip I can really see Denver winning. Toronto just isn’t that physical with the Nuggets and they can feed Nene in the post.
Than probably the toughest back-to-back of the season. First the Nuggies goes to Florida to face the Magic, who are one of the toughest teams at home this season. And the next night the Nuggets head to Dallas for Game 3 of the series with the Mavericks in a very hostile territory.
EXPECTATIONS: 1-4, but I’d be ecstatic if they find a way to go 2-3 on the road trip. And for this to happen, five things need to happen:
- Chauncey Billups needs some rest, he is slowing down with playing seven games in 11 nights. But despite how well AC has played he isn’t Ty Lawson and the Nuggets have really missed Lawson’s explosiveness and ability to make plays. Carter has made plays, but when Billups and Melo are on the bench together the team struggles.
- Arron Afflalo needs to get back in the groove. The former Bruin has been huge for the Nuggets, but lately he has been struggling. During the month of March, AAA has hit 9-of-34 shots and has shot under 40 percent. Ironically it was about the same time the team lost Lawson.
- The good JR Smith needs to show up. The one who hits 7-of-11 shots in the first half against the Hornets, not the one who missed seven shots in the second half and missed 11 of 16 shots on Saturday.
- There needs to be a trust. Whether it is Karl or Dantley, they need to trust Johan Petro and Joey Graham when the two do well. Petro played well against the Rockets, posting a double-double, but for some strange reason he sat out in the fourth quarter when the Rockets rallied to the victory. Against the Bucks, Graham was the only Nugget that could make a basket and he was playing team-ball. But he also was relegated to the bench in the fourth and the Bucks held on for the victory.
- And probably the most important thing is the Nuggets need to get healthy. Denver has been missing K-Mart and Lawson more and more with each game. Without the duo, Denver has not been as crisp on offense or defense.