Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nuggets vs. Timberwolves Preview

(Boulder-CO) Alright, alright so I know the last time that I did a preview it came back to bite me, BIG TIME. This preview, however, is going to stray from the statistical analysis that I put so much faith into, damn you statistical analysis, and take a look at some other areas that the Nuggets will need to be focused on to win at Minnesota. I’m talking about the attributes of resiliency, heart, and cohesiveness which are going to be tested this Friday night.

After a disappointing loss, like the one to Memphis, it is important to evaluate how a team reacts. Good teams can deal with a disappointing showing and bounce back the next game in their previous form. Poor teams will allow such a funk to linger with them, so it is important for the Nuggets to forget what happened and display some resiliency against the T-Wolves. It reminds me of and old saying that states the strongest reed is the one that bends, meaning that while the Nuggets were wretched on Tuesday night. It was, perhaps, a necessary reality check for this team to build on while reverting back to a more favorable style of play.

The next emotion that the Nuggets need to find a way to revisit is passion. I felt that during the Memphis loss the Nuggets were playing without the same level of heart and passion that they were embracing during their five game tear. For whatever reason the hustle wasn’t there, the camaraderie was low, and the defense consequently suffered. Maybe it was the off-night on offense, but nevertheless, that is no excuse for the aforementioned. The Nuggets need to play for each other first, and then the personal achievements will accompany the team’s overall success, but not vice a versa. There is no question in my mind that Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith could combine for 60 points every night if the Nuggets had that goal in the forefront of their agenda, but it will be the true leaders that bring back the passion to this team and instill the winning mentality regardless of opponent.

And the final component that will dictate the outcome in the match-up with KG and the Timberwolves will be team cohesiveness. When I look at the box score from the loss on Tuesday, it would appear as if the Nuggets only put in about three quarters worth of collective effort. The numbers are all scary low, and I think that can be attributed to a lack of cohesiveness. It is no secret that this team is at its best when they are running the floor and setting each other up for easy scores. When the fast break is successful it makes everyone feel involved and good about themselves. The man that clears the board and makes a good outlet pass feels just as good as the set-up man all the way down the line to the finisher. Then it makes it that much easier to hustle back down the court to play defense and hopefully get it all started again. And then not only do you have the scoreboard man in need of a 20 second timeout, but you have teammates giving high-fives, smiles, and that much more desire to help each other out on defensive rotations. If the Nuggets can get each other involved and reestablish this kind of cohesiveness their outcome will be favorable.

With an overview including a divisional match-up, the bad blood between these teams that stems from back when Sam Cassell was a T-Wolf, and the short road trip. The Nuggets have their work cut out for them regardless of what the Timberwolves record would indicate. It is too close to call as far as a win or a loss can be determined, but it will be important to note if any of the aforementioned topics are achieved successfully for the Denver Nuggets. There is a long way to go before this season really proves to be an improvement, but the Nuggets will really show their character tomorrow night in Minnesota.

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