10 keys to leaving Utah with a win

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  1. Be the more aggressive teams: This was how the Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference Finals they pushed, prodded and bullied the likes of Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant. Getting under

    Deron Williams had to work for his baskets in Game 5.

    each of their skin and getting them frustrated. Enough so that they had a reputation as playing dirty. They need that same attitude in this hostile environment.

  2. Make Deron Williams work: Williams has proven to be one of the best players in league in this series with clutch shots, timely shots and the ability to get where he wants on the floor. However, the Nuggets have let him dictate where and when he wants to get to a spot on the floor. The Nuggets, instead should be denying the inbound ball, hound him the entire court and when he gets in a pick and roll situation push him away from the basketball. Even when he is on defense, make him run through picks, post him up and don’t stand around on offense. Make him earn his million dollar paycheck.
  3. Do the little things: Maybe the Nuggets need to attend a high school basketball practice, where they’ll learn what boxing out means, contesting shots mean and sharing the basketball means. All simple things in the game of basketball which the Nuggets seem to lack.
  4. Don’t lose composure: It’s going to be 12 versus 50,003 people and while the 50,000 don’t affect the Nuggets that much, the three do. Officials have shown that their calls can be impacted by the crowd, especially a rowdy playoff crowd. It’s human nature to call the game in favor of the building, it takes a truly amazing person to ignore the boos. The Nuggets can’t dictate how the officials call the game, and for most of this series the Jazz have benefited from the physical team. Tonight the Nuggets need to understand that the majority of the whistles aren’t going to go their way, but it is okay as long as they play their game (whatever that is). If they don’t lose their composure they have a chance to win.
  5. Take smart shots: There is no doubt there will be a time in the game where the Jazz will start going on a run and the momentum will swing Utah’s way and Denver is going to want to hurry up a shot to get back into the game. Instead, the Nuggets need to take a deep breath and relax. We shouldn’t see Chauncey Billups will take his patent 3-pointer on the fast break, Kenyon Martin shooting his ugly 20-foot jumper and JR Smith trying to make an extremely incredible shot.Tonight those shots won’t fall (maybe Billups) and the Jazz will make the Nuggets pay. However, a drive to the basket, an extra pass and cut off the ball will keep Denver in the game and keep the fans out of the game.
  6. Malik Allen, Joey Graham and Anthony Carter: When the season started these were the last three guys that should be on the court. However, tonight the three of them have the things the Nuggets lack. Allen has the body to bang with Boozer and a 20-foot jumper to extend the defense. AC can pester Williams and Graham brings a certain toughness to the game that Denver has lacked in this series.  Not to mention all three are veterans and have been here before.
  7. Ignore the fans: Fans are going to say dumb things. For instance when fans chanted ‘Utah sucks’, which is great and all when you are winning the series and aren’t losing 3-2. Not to mention that chant will just ignite the Jazz fans more, who will already be rowdy and talking to all the Nuggets from Carmelo Anthony to Steve Hess. So Nuggets need to remember that Utah does suck and be thankful you don’t have to live there.
  8. Have heart: In the three games the Nuggets lost in this series, the ball bounced the Jazz way and when it didn’t Utah’s players were on the ground fighting for it. The Jazz just wanted it more, but in Game 5 Ty Lawson and Martin each dove on the floor. Afflalo was battling and the Nuggets as a team proved they wanted it more and tonight that effort is needed more than ever.
  9. AD has to coach: This series is definitely missing George Karl, but Adrian Dantley hasn’t made any effort in making the Nuggets or Jazz forget about Karl. He prepares his team for only the first few minutes of the game, he doesn’t get on the officials and he lets his players push him around. Dantley needs to make the players, coaches and officials know who is in charge and his name is AD.
  10. Birdman and JR: The two Wildcards in this series are also two players that excite the Pepsi Center crowds and than disappear on the road. The two are some of the most popular and flamboyant players in Denver, but on the road they are two of the least popular players. And tonight they both are needed more than ever: Chris Andersen needs to keep the bird grounded on defense and play solid one-on-one defense. JR Smith, god forbids it, drives to the basket to start the game and than let that dictate how he shoots in the contest.

All in all, Denver has to be ready to play with urgency and intelligence.

Good JR

Bad JR

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