In a season of highs and lows, the Denver Nuggets are hoping things don’t get much lower than they are right now.
After an encouraging buzzer-beating win against the Clippers and a solid win against the Bucks last week, the Nuggets have dropped two games in a row, both to teams currently out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Nuggets were blown out by the New York Knicks 117-90 at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, and followed that performance up with another thorough beating (126-109) by the Detroit Pistons on Saturday evening.
To make matters worse, the Nuggets also saw their star point guard and floor general, Ty Lawson, leave the game due to an apparent lower back strain. To make matters much, much worse, as the Nuggets are also missing fire power due to season-ending injuries to SF Danilo Gallinari, PG/SG Nate Robinson, and C Javale McGee, Lawson’s back strain turned out to actually be a broken rib. While the exact amount of time he will miss isn’t certain yet, Lawson is an extremely important part of Denver’s push to snag a spot in the playoffs; a goal that seems more and more fleeting as the Nuggets struggle to stay above .500 for longer than a game at a time.
While the Nuggets really need to show that they can win consistently and also that they can bounce back from one of the lowest points of the entire season if they have any hope of reaching the playoffs, Monday night will prove to be an extremely difficult arena in which to accomplish a recovery win. The Indiana Pacers, with the best winning percentage in the entire league of .780, are also one of the league’s stingiest defensive teams, leading the league with an average of 90.7 points allowed per game. The Nuggets, on the other hand, are among the league’s worst in terms of points allowed as they rank 28th with an average of 103.9 points allowed.
Although the Nuggets put together a great win against the Pacers last month at home, they’re going to have to step up their game on both ends of the court to take down the Pacers on the road. This is going to be especially difficult without the most integral cog in the Nuggets’ offensive system in the speedy point guard Ty Lawson.
In a season characterized by scratching heads and bizarre trends, however, don’t be surprised if the Nuggets pull out a win on the road tonight. This season has been a rollercoaster ride, with impressive and improbable wins over league favorites like the Oklahoma City Thunder and a much-needed win at Golden State in January being followed up by surprise losses at home to teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz. At the end of the day, the Nuggets problems that have plagued them throughout this season continue to be the issues presently at hand: injuries, consistency, and defensive cohesion.