After a regular season of up and downs, the Denver Nuggets played their best when it counted in the playoffs and gave the Los Angeles Lakers everything they could handle. They just didn’t have enough to beat Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
What made the postseason a success for the Nuggets was it wasn’t just one player that carried Denver, but more of a team effort. Sure we saw the best of Ty Lawson, but every one of the Nuggets rotation players helped make this a series.
- Timofey Mozgov left a lot of us wanting more on the offensive side of the ball, but his defense was vastly overlooked. Especially against Bynum in Game’s 5 and 6. JaVale McGee got the highlights, but Mozgov probably did a better job going head-to-head against Bynum.
- Like he did most of the season, Kenneth Faried brought it every night. He had three double-doubles in the series and averaged a double-double throughout the series with 10.4 points and 10 rebounds. He did a impeccable job defending Gasol and pushing the veteran power forward away from the hoop.
- Danilo Gallinari had a hot and cold first-round. He had a breakout performance in Game 1 and was solid, but unspectacular for much of the series. He did struggle in Game 7 when Metta World Peace returned. He also struggled with his shot for much of the series, but helped out in other ways. He had seven assists in Game 6 and spent part of the series defending Bryant. Gallinari did have a minus-24 for the series.
- After a hot finish to the regular season, Arron Afflalo really slowed down in the playoffs. A big part of it was due to defending Bryant, but Afflalo also couldn’t find his stroke from behind the arc – hitting only 4 of 20 treys. He also scored below 10 points in three games. For the Nuggets to get out of the first round they need Afflalo to return to his consistent ways.
- Lawson had his breakout party. After having a good regular season, Lawson brought his game to a different level in the postseason. Lawson played his best game of the season in Game 6, scoring a season-best 32 points and handing out six assists. He followed that up with another excellent performance in Game 7. He hit 11 of 19 shots for 24 points and kept Denver in the game with his speed. Lawson finished the series with a Nuggets’ high plus-31. It’ll be interesting to see what the next step is for the former UNC star.
- JaVale McGee had some moments when he looked really good in the series, but also had some moments when he didn’t look so good. McGee teased the nation with two stellar performances in Game 3 (16 points and 15 rebounds) and Game 5 (21 and 14). Now the question is can he harness his full potential? More than anything he should just concentrate on being a force on the defensive side of the ball – which he was for much of the series.
- Al Harrington wasn’t at 100 percent for much of the series and it showed as he shot only .32 from the field in the series. He did step up in Game 7 and hit some big shots in the fourth quarter. He scored five straight points to open the fourth quarter and gave Denver its final lead of the game. Harrington had a plus-20 in the series.
- Much like he did all this season, Corey Brewer did everything that was asked of him. His impact on defense was irreplaceable, frustrating Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions and then switching over to pester Bryant. He also answered the call in Game 6 and hit big baskets to stall a Bryant-led rally. He scored a series-best 18 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
- Remember Raymond Felton? Andre Miller was very much the important veteran point guard the Nuggets needed him to be. He motivated Denver to a Game 6 win and had his way with the Lakers point guard for much of the series. It wasn’t until World Peace came back when Miller started to struggle. Before that he repeatedly pounded the ball into the post and dictated the outcome of the game. He also got his three-point stroke going, hitting big treys in Game 5 and 6.
Tags: Al Harrington Andre Miller Andrew Bynum Arron Afflalo Corey Brewer Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets George Karl JaVale McGee Kenneth Faried Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol Ramon Sessions Raymond Felton Steve Blake Timofey Mozgov Ty Lawson