Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Regrouping and Rethinking

(Boulder-CO) I’m not sure if it is because of the state of the situation in regards to the Nuggets or just the fact that this whole thing is getting pretty big around here, but I really do appreciate the outpour of comments and differing thoughts. I have been thinking about many of the perspectives that everyone has brought to the table and think that I have found some clarity in a time when everything looks like it’s going to hell in a hand basket.

First and foremost, it needs to be brought to the forefront that the Nuggets bench has been all but non-existent in this series. When compared head-to-head with the Spurs’ reserves the Nuggets’ second tier is absolutely getting dominated, 131-33, in the scoring column. Granted, the Spurs play nearly six deep off their bench some nights, but you can not blame them for doing so because when you can-do, you will-do. Trust me, if the Nuggets could find some consistent help off the pine they would, but quite frankly, they can’t and they don’t.

To build on that idea, the Spurs’ big three of Manu Ginobili AKA The Flopper, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker have combined for 216 points thus far in comparison to the Nuggets’ big three of Nene, Allen Iverson, and Carmelo tallying 272. At first glance, it would appear that there is no problem when you compare both team’s big guns, but when you consider that the Nuggets needed AI and Carmelo to combine for 61 points to win game one an ugly little situation comes to light.

In the last three consecutive losses, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson have not been able to combine for more than 51 points, (which they did in game four), despite shooting an incredible 46 times from the field in game two when they combined for just 46 points on 17 of the aforementioned 46 attempts.

Now guess how many times the big three have all shot the ball from the field in their combined totals in the last three San Antonio victories? The answers are: 44 attempts in game two, 53 in game three, and 55 in game four. Point being, is there is not enough team basketball being played by the boys in blue and the Nuggets are too reliant offensively on Iverson and Anthony, which in turn, gives the Spurs a decisive advantage in the sense that two men independently can not defeat five working together as a cohesive unit.

Venturing from that idea, it is absolutely amazing to me that Tim Duncan has only been called for six personal fouls in a combined total of 154 minutes of playoff-intense basketball in this series. You may think I’m belly-aching for bringing this up, but when you consider how much manipulating, crying, complaining, and pouting the Big Fundamental does with the officiating staff, not only in the playoffs but in the previous 82 games of the 2006-07 season, there has got to be some kind of proof in all the available pudding. He is averaging 37 minutes per game so far this postseason, and an astounding 1.5 fouls per which has got to be some kind of playoff record. My only deduction is that somehow the whole Joey Crawford incident has had a reverse effect from the original worries that the NBA officials would be out to “get” the Spurs after Crawford was suspended indefinitely.

Finally, my last point of contention is also the most critical aspect of this series and was brought up by longtime reader, btalk. He wrote in today’s comments, “I'm only speaking as a former high school coach here, but great veteran players who make plays make you look real good, I've been there. Great veteran players who don't make plays, mixed with guys not quite ready for prime time make you look real stupid...I've been there too!”

To build off of btalk’s comments, I feel that the true story as to why Greg Popovich has looked so brilliant while George Karl has often times looked disheveled is due to the point guard situation both men have to work with. On the one hand, San Antonio has a NBA champion and All-Star caliber guard in Tony Parker who acts like an extension of Coach Pop on the floor. On the other, Coach Karl has Steve Blake who has been a bench player for the previous few years of his career and who has also not had any meaningful playoff experience. Tony runs his team with a cool sense of been-there-done-that, whereas Steve seems to be jumpy, uncomfortable, and without a real sense of the rhythm of the situation from one minute to the next. It’s unfortunate, but true, and if I remember anything from my playing days it’s that the point guard needs to be a coach on the floor, and not in need of constant coaching.

And when you add all of these not-so apparent contingencies together you indefinitely come out with the Nuggets on the short end of the stick. So, where does that leave us, (aside from the wrong end of the stick… I mean, series)?

While I don’t think that the Nuggets have three straight victories in them at this point, I do still think that there is some fight in this team and with the right adjustments they still might make this thing interesting. My first tweak concerns digging a little bit deeper into the bench and would be to flash a dose of Reggie Evans to, if nothing else, bang Tim Duncan around and force him to earn some of his points from the free-throw line. Secondly, I would give Yakhouba Diawara some burn in an attempt to slow down, or at worst case scenario, rough up Manu Ginobili for a couple of stretches in game five. I’m not prescribing anything dirty, but I want to at least see if Manu can break Diawara down off the dribble as easily as he has J.R. Smith and Eduardo Najera. And my last change in the Nuggets’ game plan would be to play some zone defense in an attempt to keep Tony Parker and the rest of the San Antonio penetration from getting so many easy looks at the rim. Park Marcus Camby in the middle and let him feast if the Spurs are so daring as to try the Defensive Player of the Year’s shot blocking abilities! And if the Nuggets were wise enough to try a 3-2... That should be an easy remedy for the open treys the Spurs have been hitting as a result of the poor help-and-recovery on the all defensive switching.

I could be right or I could be wrong in my thoughts, but I do know that without at least an attempt to change some things here and there Wednesday night will be the last Nuggets game of the season. And I for one am not quite ready for it all to be said and done. I’d rather bring this thing back to Pepsi Center for at least one more game.

Go Nuggets!


drumdance said...

Good thoughts. Since Karl is benching JR Smith for game 5, you have to think he's going to throw everything but the kitchen sink (and JR Smith) out there. These ideas sound as good as anything else I've heard. Actually, better. All the ideas I've heard so far are basically the same: swallow the bitter pill of experience and try again next year. :)

Nugg Doctor said...


I was wondering where you heard or read that J.R. was going to be benched for game five?

I also appreciate your readership and comments.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

drumdance said...

The JR Smith story is on ESPN.com -- here. I kinda wish he hadn't announced it like this. Reminds me too much of the Kenyon Martin thing last year.

Nugg Doctor said...

Thanks for the link, drumdance. After your initial comment sparked my interest I found the story (it's been a long day).

While it is a distraction from the task at hand, and all mistakes aside, he could be a big help if he were to have a big game. I do not feel that Karl's remarks were insensitive or unwarranted.

J.R. is going to have to learn that the game of basketball is much more than hitting threes and highlight dunks. Thankfully, he is young enough for these mistakes to be rectified while also being taken as a lesson learned. Hopefully this doesn't sour his feelings on playing in Denver.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Unknown said...

Very disapointing playoff for the Nuggets no doubt. I have to say, i've been his huge fan ever since his rookie year, but it's driving me crazy that AI doesn't use more basketball smarts when playing. He's forcing bad shots, and not doing the things that would help the team. Just for the sake of argument, i was not a Nuggets fan until AI arrived. I'm saying this, just to make it clear, that even I, a big AI fan, understands, that AI should change his game. First of all the whole "half court offense" that Nuggets play is..well crap. Too much standing around, doing nothing. Their defense sucks, and again it comes down to AI and Melo. I have no idea why so many poor rotations on defense and almost no seems, no desire to stop anyone. I don't know why they don't run AI off multiple screens like Larry Brown did in Philly. That creates mismatches, and gets AI some space.Now, he's forcing incredibly bad shots, while others are just standing there, watching. Second of all, SA, and probably all other teams, have no fucking answer for Melo when his feelin it. I don't understand why George Karl dooesn't instruct his team to ride him. I don't mean for 3 shots, i mean ride him until the end. They can't guard him and Melo to my suprise has shown he can make the right play and not force it, like to my disapintment AI. Bottom line is, Nuggets need a decent half court offense where everybody gets at least a sense of involment, AI needs to recognize what the offense give him, and Melo needs to say: give me the fucking ball.

Take care

nuggsfan15 said...

Karl was justified in doing what he did. In my humble opinion.

ThaAnswer said...

Tonight's the night. I think AI really has to get in the paint and not only put up points, but give us the 7+ assists we say all year.
And for God's sake, FEED MELO THE BALL. He has been, as usual, incredibily efficient so let's take advantage. Post him up on Bowen. If he can avoid those (ridiculous) offense fouls we can either body him for 2 points or pass out to open shooters (yea, it would be nice to have someone hit a jumper).
This is our last shot, and I think the Nuggets will bring it tonight. We're taking game 5, so don't give up Nugget Nation. AI has been here before.

Unknown said...

nuggsfan15, Karl may be justified in doing what he did with JR (as JR has played like crap), however, a good coach would not take it to the media. What a way to kill a players confidence in himself and the team.

Karl has JR walking on eggshells, which I think is a major reason why he is struggling so much this series. That, and the fact he has NEVER been in the playoffs. So all in all, I have no problem with the benching, but the tell the player privately and don't ever announce it to the media. Karl is an IDIOT!

And blaz,

Well, I guess thank for being a Nuggets fan, but one thing you will find real quick is that Karl is the root of the problems with this team. I wholeheartedly think that. As you mentioned, in Philly they ran AI off screens and it was successful. Karl has no idea how to coach an offense. Their is no schemes, no passing, no screens, barely any cutting, and it is very ugly. They are making San Antonio's defense look better than it is.

And finally, everyone (myself included) keeps saying that Denver is losing because of a lack of bench which is mainly due to the inexperience of players like JR and Kleiza. However, I think once again a good coach would be getting these guys to produce. Look at Golden State. They are up 3-2 against the Mavericks!! And they are playing players that are young and inexperienced and not used to the big stage just like Denver. Yet, they are getting it done against a more experienced team. So even though I think it has a little to do with inexperience and youth, I think Karl is too blame once again for not willing these players to get it done.

Karl needs to go IMO. This team will NOT win with Karl as coach. Mark my words, Nuggets nation. As much as I hate to say it, it will be the case.