The Denver Nuggets are starting to find their groove, as they are currently riding a five game win streak. The Nuggets started the season off rocky and some, including myself were ready to mark this season down as a disappointing one. However over the last 15 games, Denver has started to play like the team everyone thought they could be going into this season. Since starting the year out with a mediocre 12-12 record, the Nuggets have gone 11-4 in their last 15 games and have won six of their last seven. The Nuggets have benefited from the elevated play of Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried over the past several games, while also doing a great job of beating teams in the fourth quarter.
Over the last seven games, Denver has outscored their opponents 195-153 in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets have done a great job of defending teams down the stretch of games and getting big shots from Gallinari, to put the proverbial nail in the coffin for opposing teams. Denver has given up only one 30+ point and two 20+ point fourth quarters over the past seven games, showing some great improvement defensively in the fourth at least while playing at home. Another big reason for Denver’s mid-season turn around, has been the play of forwards Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried.
Gallinari has continued to show growth in his game this season, by hitting more shots in “crunch time” and has really stepped up as the Nuggets leading scorer this year. Over the past 15 games, Gallo has been great for Denver, averaging 18 points per game and shooting 41% from beyond the arc. He’s hit multiple crucial shots during this stretch against teams like the Spurs, Lakers and Cavaliers, helping Denver secure wins in all three of those games. Faried has been phenomenal as well over the last 15 games for the Nuggets, recording seven double-doubles and three games with 15+ rebounds. “The Manimal” has also done a great job of improving his shooting percentages over the last seven games, as during this stretch he’s shooting a whopping 57% from the field and 78% from the free throw line.
The Nuggets also have gotten great contributions from both of their point guards, Ty Lawson and Andre Miller over the past seven games. Lawson seems to have found his confidence again and is starting to play like the player, most Nuggets fans expected him to be going into this season. Lawson is on a roll lately, averaging 17.2 points, 6.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game, over the last seven games for Denver. He’s also started to get in a rhythm shooting wise, as Lawson is shooting 45% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc and 82% from the charity strike during this stretch. Lawson has been great in the closing moments of games for Denver too lately, having quality fourth quarter performances against both the Lakers and Magic. I’ve been as hard on Ty Lawson as anyone, going so far as to even suggesting that Masai Ujiri should consider trading him at one point but, Lawson is starting to come into his own and if he can keep up this level of play, Denver would be foolish to part with him.
Andre Miller on the other hand has done a great job of upping his efficiency over the past seven games for Denver. He is only committing two turnovers per game and shooting a great 52% from the field during this stretch. Dre’ helped the Nuggets avoid losing yet again to the Orlando Magic last Wednesday, with his fourth quarter performance and has done a good job, with Lawson of facilitating Denver’s offense as of late(Miller and Lawson are averaging a combined 14 assists per game, over the last seven games). Right now the Nuggets are sitting seven games above .500 at 23-16 and are slotted as the 6th seed in the West. Denver is one of the hottest teams in the league right now but, as well all know consistency can be a issue with this team. The next four games for the Nuggets will be big tests, two of which will be against division foe and the best team in basketball right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Denver will also take on another division foe in the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, who are led by rookie standout Damian Lillard and who also beat Denver earlier in the year, while also facing a Washington Wizards team that has won three games in a row(includes wins over OKC and Atlanta). Only time will tell if the Nuggets have finally become the team everyone thought they would/could be going into this season but, one thing is for certain Denver is rolling right now and looks like a team poised to make a run at a Top 4 seed in the Western Conference.