If the Denver Nuggets are going to battle themselves back into the playoff picture this season, it needs to start with the month of January.
The Nuggets (15-17) are currently 3.5 games back of the Dallas Mavericks (19-14) for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, so before our most recent skid, we were right there in the hunt.
Coach Brian Shaw recently, and finally I might add, said he was going to start shortening his bench and tightening up the player rotation. This can only help our chemistry and consistency, two things we have lacked at certain points so far throughout the season. Honestly, Shaw was beginning to remind me of a kid on Christmas morning who wants to play with each new toy for about 10 minutes before starting the process all over again. I am all for finding the hot hand and seeing which players feed off one another, but there comes a time when you have to make a decision, stick to it and move forward. That time has definitely come.
Getting back to our winnable January schedule, the Nuggets have 13 games remaining against opponents with a combined 222-212 record. While this may not jump out as a cakewalk, if you remove games against the Oklahoma City Thunder (26-7), the Portland Trailblazers (28-8) and the Indiana Pacers (26-6), our opponents have a very pedestrian 142-191 record, or a .426 winning percentage.
That gives Denver 13 games against opponents, that on average, have a worse record than they do. The schedule also includes games against some league-wide bottom feeders like the Orlando Magic (10-23), the Utah Jazz (11-25) and the Sacramento Kings (10-22). As I mentioned in a previous article, these are the type of games that the Nuggets must-win.
Former coach George Karl always gauged his team’s success in an given month by whether they won 10 or more games. Starting tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers (14-19) and including Friday’s win against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Nuggets have an excellent chance to do just that and climb their way back into playoff relevance.
Below is a look at the entire remaining schedule for the Denver Nuggets in January:
Sun 5 @ L.A. Lakers (14-19)
Tue 7 vs Boston Celtics (13-20)
Thu 9 vs Oklahoma City Thunder (26-7)
Sat 11 vs Orlando Magic (10-23)
Mon 13 @ Utah Jazz (11-25)
Wed 15 @ Golden State Warriors (22-13)
Fri 17 vs Cleveland Cavaliers (11-22)
Sun 19 @ Phoenix Suns (20-12)
Thu 23 @ Portland Trailblazers (28-8)
Sat 25 vs Indiana Pacers (26-6)
Sun 26 @ Sacramento Kings (10-22)
Wed 29 vs Charlotte Bobcats (15-20)
Fri 31 vs Toronto Raptors (16-15)
I can certainly find nine more wins in this schedule. Hopefully the Nuggets can also find a few more.
Tags: Denver Nuggets