Monday, March 5, 2007

Catch a Whiff of that Dead Moose

(Boulder-CO) The only thing more annoying than the continued mediocre play of the Denver Nuggets is how no one affiliated with the franchise is talking about the retched-wafting stink of dead moose in the Nuggets locker room. So, instead of acknowledging what is really plaguing this team and their fading chances of making the playoffs, let alone making a peep if they get there, the mainstream is talking about whether or not Iverson will stay a Nugget till the end of his career, three guys that are potentially going to anchor the end of the bench with meaningless 10-day contracts, and Steve Blake’s father arriving in Denver for an extended visit.

If you didn’t know any better you might think that this team was comfortably in the middle of the Western Conference Playoff picture. However, this is Denver and this is the Nuggets we are talking about! In my opinion, what really should be the talk of the town is why Reggie Evans is all of a sudden found benched, the continued domination of the ball without any movement by Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby’s slip in production during the month of February, and but of course, the pending playoff push that is going to be needed to even make the post season.

So do you want the straight dope about this team or just the watered down, cushy, editor-friendly version?
The choice is up to you, but I for one am about straight talk concerning what is going to produce W’s and why the L’s keep piling up.

I am not sure anyone outside of the Nuggets coaching staff knows as to why The Joker is in the doghouse, but it is painfully evident that it is no laughing matter. Reggie Evans has been benched for three out of the last five games, and in the two games he did get his warm-up off it was for only seven minutes in each contest. Of the three games Reggie was inactive for, (Dallas, Orlando, and Houston); the Nuggets were out-rebounded by each team leaving me to ponder why Reggie Evans is just relaxing on the end of the bench while guys like Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, and Dikembe Mutombo maul the Nuggets on the glass?

Another issue that no one is talking about right now is how the Nuggets fall into a zombie-like state on offense when Allen Iverson plays point guard. When Steve Blake is not in the game it is Allen Iverson’s job to run the point and it is that exact instance that the Nuggets continuity on offense goes dormant. When AI is handling the ball he is too often looking to free himself up for scoring opportunities instead of making a quick pass in efforts of jumpstarting the offense. He usually runs a couple of pick and rolls and by the time he either pulls up for a mid-range jumper or dishes the rock the shot clock has dwindled so low that the Nuggets go into a frantic mode just to get the ball on rim. When this kind of offense is the staple the only players in the fold are AI and the man that’s screening for him. The rest of the Nuggets just stand around and watch because they know the chances of receiving the ball are slim. Not that some of the onus doesn’t land on the supporting cast for standing around, but my point in illustrating this is that a point guard needs to bring the ball up the floor dealing with any full-court pressure and facilitate the ball into the offense. Guys like touching the ball, even if it is just for a quick second, because it internally makes them feel involved in the game. No one, including the fans, likes watching a point guard dribble ten seconds off the shot clock every time down the floor. It’s bad for offense, bad for chemistry, and not a winning strategy.

Moving on now to some cold, hard facts about Marcus Camby. Back in January Marcus was averaging 13 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and better than three blocks per game. Rock solid numbers for a veteran center, but something happened after he missed four games with a pulled groin in early February. His numbers have dropped considerably in the last month to eight points, nine rebounds, and nearly half a blocked shot less per game. To illustrate the decline more clearly let me illuminate the fact that in the month of February Marcus Camby only grabbed more than ten rebounds four times in ten games whereas in January he reached double digits in seven of the fourteen games he played in. Even more telling of how important Marcus’s rebounding is to this team is during the four-game skid the Nuggets fell victim to during the end of February the Camby-man didn’t grab more than six boards in any of those games.

Still not sure of my analysis? What about if I told you that before losing four straight to close out the month of February the Nuggets were winners of five consecutive games where Camby grabbed nine or more rebounds in four out of the five W’s.

And now to evaluate where the Nuggets honestly stand as far as making the playoffs. As of the time of this article’s publish the Nuggets are in the eighth spot and barely hanging on with their fiercest competition coming from the Hornets. The NOOCH have 22 games remaining with ten home games sprinkled throughout the final stretch. They boast a 19-12 record at home, (wherever that may be), and play the Nuggets twice more before the regular season ends. The Nuggets on the other hand have 23 games remaining and of those remaining games have ten games at home where they have posted a losing record to date. When you compare the strength of opponents on the two teams’ schedules the Hornets are obviously in the more favorable position and if it comes down to identical records at season’s end. The Hornets will most likely hold the tie-breaker due to already beating the Nuggets twice this season.

These are truths at this juncture of the season, Nuggets fans. It has been a long and twisted ride for all of us and just when you think you’re ready to get off this blasted roller coaster… The damn thing just won’t stop and all you hear are excuses as to why it is not going accordingly to plan while everyone is not trying to make excuses. I’m just wondering when all the tip-toeing around the dead moose is going to stop and people start being accountable. How about you?


btalk said...

All valid points Nugg Doc. Certainly no point to moving without the ball just to be moving since you won't see it anyway. The only explanation for the missing Reggie question is that Nene has been playing well. If you sub Reggie for Marcus you may get a few more rebounds but you won't get the same points even with the Cambyman's numbers being down. Also, I think some teams take a Hack-a-Reggie approach since he bricks more free throws than Stevie Wonder would. A.I. is A.I., what you have seen for years is exactly what you are getting.

Jason said...

Nugg Doctor, great article. I am sick and tired of the excuses also. It seems like they are in the river Nile, or should I de-nile. Everyone, especially George Karl is making excuses for this team.

Yes, the excuses are valid - injuries, suspensions, trades, you name it. But even with all of that, there is still NO excuse for this team being one game under .500 at home!!! Most of those losses came against worse teams and worse talent. There is no excuse for that.

As far as Reggie Evans, personally I am torn on the matter. Reggie brings rebounding to this team, and NOTHING else. The guy cannot hold onto a pass to save his life, misses layup after layup, and makes poor passes. Yes, I do love what he brings as far as rebounding, but he seems to be such a liability everywhere else that it is hard to justify him in the game. I think that is the sole reason he was getting benched up in Seattle also. To me, Reggie is just an Insurance policy big man. you mentioned, this team is flat out getting outworked on the glass lately, and maybe it is time to see what Reggie can do to solve those woes.

Fence said...

It's also interesting to note that the Nuggs are playing with a salary cap handicap because they're handcuffed to Kenyon Martin. So, they're currently missing Martin (or somebody useful they could sign with that cap space) and J.R. Smith, two significant parts of their projected rotation. Camby was going to have to slow down at some point, and we can only hope that Nene can pick up more of the low-post slack. There should be no surprises with Iverson... he's been dominating the ball his entire career. Either you live with it or Karl has to perform some coaching magic.