Well, the performance from the Denver Nuggets against the Utah Jazz on Monday night really couldn’t have been much worse. Everything good the team had accomplished together during their five-game winning streak—including the sense that things were going to keep getting better from here—came crashing down to earth with a hugely disappointing blowout loss to the Utah Jazz, who are in last place in the Western Conference this season with a 13-26 record.
The upside, however, is that the Denver Nuggets do not have to wait long for the opportunity to erase their fan base’s memory of the Utah Jazz game with a win over the rival Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. After facing off in an emotionally exhausting and aggressively physical playoff series last year, the two teams have seemingly gone in opposite directions.
The Nuggets, considered by some to be a dark horse contender last season after a franchise-record 57 wins, took several steps back following that playoff series by losing their best defender in Andre Iguodala, Coach of the Year George Karl, and General Manager of the Year Masai Ujiri. Although the Nuggets have offered glimpses into the potential this team has with rookie coach Brian Shaw by putting together a few nice winning streaks, they have been rather inconsistent this year and, at times, both individual players and the team as a whole have looked totally lost on both ends of the court. They currently sit in 9th place in the Western Conference with a record of 19-18. Adding to the Nuggets’ woes, they were thoroughly beaten at home 89-81 by the Golden State Warriors earlier this season on Dec. 23rd.
While the Denver Nuggets have given indications sporadically throughout this season that they are improving and could very well be on their way to developing into a playoff contender, they have been on opposite sides of the NBA rankings and standings that the Golden State Warriors have enjoyed this year. Coming off an impressive 10-game winning streak that started in December and extended into the beginning of January, many see the Warriors as a Western Conference contender this season, as they are presently 6th in the West with a 25-14 record.
Tonight, the Denver Nuggets have the chance to impress with this game against the Warriors and open a few eyes to the potential this team actually has this season. Coming into the game as 8-point underdogs, the Nuggets will have their work cut out for them. Golden State is a surprisingly solid defensive team and is among the best in the NBA at something the Nuggets are among the worst at defending: three-point shooting. In order to win this game despite lacking the individual talent the Warriors boast, the Denver Nuggets need to give consistent defensive effort (especially defending the three), play with a chip on their shoulder with the memory of Steph Curry draining three after three on them in the first round of the NBA playoffs last year burned into their brains, and hope Randy Foye’s shot is falling, as the Nuggets simply win more games when he hits the three-pointer.
This game tonight marks a rare occasion of two opportunities for redemption for this inconsistent Denver Nuggets basketball team: redemption from the embarrassing loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night and redemption from the notion that the Golden State Warriors will always have the Denver Nuggets’ number both in season and in the playoffs.
Get ready, Denver Nuggets fans; this should be an emotional one.