Friday, February 9, 2007

Nuggets vs. Pacers Preview

(Boulder-CO) What can you say when a team has everything they need on paper and in the league’s leader boards, but still can’t get a win? Just call them the Denver Nuggets! This team has the league’s leading scorer (Anthony) and another top-five bucket man (Iverson), the league’s best shot blocker and second best rebounded (Camby), and one of the best three-point shooters in the game (Smith). Yet somehow the Nuggets, for all they get accomplished individually, can not seem to tack one on the win column for anything and tonight will have their work cut out for them against the Indiana Pacers in Conseco Field House.

So here is what you need to know about tonight’s game and in general about the Nuggets right now. For starters the Nuggets are 8-12 since trading for Iverson, losers of seven out of their last eight games, on a three-game skid, and since Iverson is talking about sitting the All-Star game to rest his tweaked ankle the Nuggets could be without an All-Star representative even with all the personal accolades I just briefly touched on a second ago. To say that this team is in a pretty ripe funk would be putting it lightly!

The last time these two teams met the Nuggets easily won, 121-101, in a game that I was at personally. They were a completely different team at that point with guys like Andre Miller and Earl Boykins still wearing Nugget blue and, to be quite frank with you were a better team winning percentage and chemistry wise.

But don’t think that everything has been just peaches in Indy either. After Stephen Jackson went a little bit trigger happy outside a nightclub earlier this season. The Pacers still haven’t kept their thuggish ruggish ways to a minimum. Just earlier this week a few of Indiana’s boys were making headlines stemming from allegations of assaulting a bar manager in downtown Indy. Oh, to be an NBA player in the new millennium! It must be fun, no? I mean with all the parties, money, gun-toting, brouhahas, and don’t forget about the games. Hell, it’s a wonder these guys can concentrate at all on basketball games! If only the blog world was that fun, sigh…

But back onto serious notes, AI is not traveling with the team on this two-game road scamper, Marcus is day-to-day (groin), and Reggie Evans is still a little bit banged up too. The Pacers may see the return of the league’s second best shot blocker (Jermaine O’Neal), but are also trying to find some chemistry of their own in the wake of a blockbuster trade in which they acquired Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu, and Mike Dunleavy from the G-State Warriors. Whom it should also be mentioned that they just lost to before also losing to the Supersonics on Wednesday.

If there is a bright side to all the darkness that has been cloaking the Nuggets up this point, and in regards to this game, it is that the Nuggets are a respectable 10-10 on the road so far this year. Hey, what do you want from me? They are 13-14 at home and I’m just trying to being optimistic!

Know thy enemy, Nuggets fans. Go check out This Pacers blogger thinks that these two teams are their own counterparts in their respected conferences, and after reading what he had to say… I would have to agree!


Stumbleweed said...

Sorry for the glut of comments lately, but I wanted to point out this great analysis by D-Wil:

Ultimately, I think he's right -- we will eventually grow into a great team (assuming things go well with Melo's development and AI's deferring). I think we will probably still sneak into the playoffs this year, but I don't think we'll get out of the first round again until we get some cohesion.

K-Mart (hopefully) being back and playing somewhat close to his level would be huge for us on the defensive end as well as in transition. I really think it's just a matter of time... we've just gotta get all this suspension/injury stuff behind us and have a change to really play together with the same lineup. It's pretty clear that Nene has risen to the starting PF spot, so I think we need to go with a lineup of AI, JR, Melo, Nene, Camby. It's by far our most potent lineup, and all of the scorers are capable of playing a good amount of minutes, so you're not totally losing punch when the bench comes in because you can leave AI out for a bit, etc.

I hate how little George is playing JR in crunch time and at the same time as AI/Melo. He's got unlimited potential, and it seems like his development keeps getting set back when he has an off shooting night and George benches him for most of the game. He needs game experience, not a retributive punishment... that's what got him and Byron Scott on bad terms. He's obviously been trying to step up his defensive game (something that I haven't seen Melo doing much since he came back), so the effort's there... but it just seems like he can't stay off the bench...

Anyway, blah.. I hope we can pull one out in Indy tonight, but it's gonna be tough, especially if Marcus is out and Jermaine is in. I'm crossing my fingers that The Captain can suit up for this one, because I think we might be screwed otherwise.

Also, stopmikelupica made this comment in the most recent FreeDarko post that I thought had something to it (and supports my thesis that JR needs to be out there in crunch time). Even if there are deeper problems like the ones D-Wil talked about (and there are), it seems pretty clear that they don't know how to finish games and JR not being there might be part of it:

stopmikelupica wrote:

I took a look at the logs of their last three close games: loses vs NOOCH, PHO, and CHAR. First thing I noticed: JR Smith is the offense for most of the first half of the 4th quarter. Worth noting.

Stat breakdown (really rushed, so might be errors, and clearly not a great sample size)...

vs. Charlotte:
1-3rd Q: 26-60 FG 43.3%; 20-24 FT
4th Q: 9-20 FG, 45%. 3-5 FT
Last 5 minutes: 1-7 FG, 3-5 FT.

vs. Pho:
1-3rd Q: 31-68 FG 45.6%, 11-16 FT
4th Q: 12-23 FG 52.2%, 4-5 FT
Last 5 minutes: 6-12 FG, 2-3 FT

vs. NOOCH:
1-3rd Q: 35-76 FG 46.1%, 14-21 FT
4th Q: 9-22 FG 40.9%, 5-6 FT
Last 5 minutes: 2-10 FG, 2-2 FT

Um, my spotty conclusions from such minimal effort (maybe I'll work on this some more over the weekend) is that the Nuggets don't get to the line as well in the 4th. And that in the last 5 minutes of the 4th, when JR isn't the key offensive player, but Iverson and Melo are, they don't shoot well.

Nugg Doctor said...

No problem, Stumbleweed. You're bringing A-game to this blog and your analysis and bibliographies are appreciated. You obviously give a damn about this team and that is a good thing.

Thanks for reading, and the breakdown,

The Nugg Doctor