Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Face It: The Nuggets Aren’t that Good

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) A lot of things jumped out at me pertaining to the Nuggets last night while at the Pepsi Center. Sure, the Detroit Pistons are a beast coming out of the watered down east, but by the Nuggets losing to them in the fashion that they did only proved to me that this team is anything but playoff ready. Amongst other things that I will get into further detail later, the Nuggets have four very basic but fatal flaws. First, they have no leadership. That’s right, I just said it. There is no vocal leader on this team that takes charge of the game on either end of the floor. Denver can chalk this one up to spending too much money in other places and then trying to throw flimsy solutions in at the point. The next flaw in the Nuggets' game is they have nothing resembling an offense. So many times last night there was one or maybe two passes (with a frequent occurrence of not even a single pass) before everyone without the ball (everyone but Carmelo, J.R. Smith, or AI) would just fall asleep. There is no offensive game plan when the game is in the waning seconds and there is no offensive game plan in the first quarter. It’s all just stand around and hope that the guy with the ball makes a play. Sure, there’s the occasional offensive rebound or tap out, but for the most part the Nuggets are an isolate and take a break team on offense. The third flaw in the Nuggets’ game is inconsistency. Aside from Carmelo and Iverson, it’s a total crapshoot as to who is going to be their third scoring option. Could it be Kenyon, Linas, or J.R.? Sure, it could be any of them! But the Nuggets always have to waste a lot of playing time to figure out who is going to step up on any given night. And the last, but certainly not the least lethal, flaw this Denver Nuggets team has displayed is they are a ME-centric team. Carmelo and AI are going to finish in the top five individual scorers for the second straight season. Marcus Camby will most likely lead the league in blocked shots while perhaps winning the rebounding title too in his attempt to win a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award (which is ironic seeing how the Nuggets are probably the worst defensive team in the league). Additionally, Denver has had four different players score 40 or more points in a single game this season. Kenyon Martin has a decent shot at winning Comeback Player of the Year too, but it’s all in vain because the team-play is geared towards the likes of the individuals (mind-boggling, I know). For the Nuggets, it’s as if they are almost content to lose as long as somebody has a career night while the big dogs get the lion’s share of the box score.

Agree or disagree? That is the question, but I know after watching them last night that what I just offered up in those four points are the roots of all that still hampers this team.

I only have five points of interest from last night’s game. From there I’ll leave it up to everyone else in the comment section.

1. Detroit controlled the tempo of this game from start to finish. My comrade Btalk and I took this game in together and when he looked at me at the start of the fourth quarter and said, “The score is tied at 73. We’ve played right into Detroit’s hands”, I knew right then and there we were going to lose. Detroit has Denver native, and former Finals MVP, Chauncey Billups running their show. Last night, we had J.R. Smith serving as our point guard. Who would you guess was more likely to falter.

2. Denver was out passed 29-25 in the assist category by a team that is not known for scoring a lot of points. I’d be willing to bet that nine times out of ten when the Nuggets don’t win the assist battle they lose the game. Once again, this goes back to sharing the ball and team offense. Both of which the Nuggets could use a lot of help in.

3. Balance. The Pistons were very balanced and gave the Nuggets an offensive attack consisting of all five starters scoring in double figures including Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, and Chauncey Billups each scoring 20 points. Antonio McDyess recorded a double-double of 16 points and 13 boards and Rasheed chipped in ten points and nine rebounds. The Nuggets are extremely unbalanced. Three players from Denver scored in double figures (‘Melo, AI, and J.R. Smith) on a combined 19-53 from the field. Denver only shot the ball 89 times, you do the math…

4. J.R. Smith is not very clutch. Sure, he made shots that kept Denver in the game down the stretch, but he also took shots that kept Denver from continuing to swing momentum in their favor at earlier points in the game. Smith took ten three’s last night and only made three of them. Two of them came in the fourth quarter, so that just left seven other bad shots for George Karl to grimace over while he was at home sick with the flu. On top of all that, Smith once again failed to make good on three attempts from the free-throw line with the game’s outcome in the balance. He gave a similar performance in a similar situation in a game not too far back against the Indiana Pacers.

5. Digital Underground allegedly made their final public appearance at halftime of last night’s game. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but you are a bold-faced liar if you proclaim to not know the words to, “The Humpty Dance”. Extra points awarded if you have, or personally know anyone who has in fact, “Gotten busy in a Burger King bathroom!”

With last night's, 98-93, defeat the Nuggets have lost three straight games and are now going to really have their backs against the wall against some formidable foes down the home stretch. Now, it’s possible that Denver could go on a winning streak and still make the playoffs, but the row to hoe is full winning teams and as of right now I think it’s do or die time for the Nuggets. A few more losses without another few wins in a row is going to seal the deal on this year’s Denver Nuggets…

I’d like to be wrong. I’d like to see Denver some how win the division while getting hot right before the playoffs, but right now I just don’t see it happening. There are too many problems that seem to just not want to be addressed by either the players or the coaching staff and a more likely scenario is for the finger pointing to start sometime in the next 10-12 games. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…


btalk said...

Someone has to be brutally honest, and you, Nugg Doc, are willing to step up and say it like it needs to be said. The thing that bothers me most is that your observations, and I completely agree with them, are not all that intricate. My point is you are seeing and analyzing the same things Karl and his staff see. I'm not gonna blame Karl though...I blame the players. If these "losing" traits are acknowledged, then the players are either too stubborn or too proud to let the "team" take precedent. I don't think J.R. is too proud or stubborn...he's just plain... too stupid!
Keep up the accurate commentary and lets hope our Nuggs show some heart down the stretch.

Kieran said...

Winning pasts of Nuggets players:

Melo led team to NCAA title as a Freshman
AI led bad team to NBA finals
Kmart and Camby have both played significant roles on teams that made it to the finals.

I think we have to give another coach a shot. Then, if it still doesn't work, we dump everyone except Kleiza, Melo, and Nene and start from scratch. We'll have a bunch of expiring contracts next year to make a move if needed.

mr.bobbysteels said...

i was gonna say goodbye to the playoffs yesterday. however, after the huge Yao news things look slightly better. if we cant beat out the rockets w/o Yao, to make the playoffs we need to make Karl rub his thumbs together and stick it up his ass.

mr.bobbysteels said...

karl blows!

why did i buy league pass to see this doo doo?

why we blow

1. AC is our STARTING point guard
2. Chuck Atkins is going to be our STARTING point guard if he returns.
3. We have no point guards
4. LK and Najera are inconsistent
5. We traded for taurean green

see a trend?

Tony said...

I totally agree wit Bobby Steels. Nugs have no point guard.

It's sad when Sam Cassell might come to our squadron and be our best PG.

He's like a 75 overall in NBA 2k8. We shouldve def traded for Artest. Right now we're lookin at a 1st round date with the Lakers, who look REALLY good right now by the way.

Go Nugs!!!

ThaAnswer said...

I hardly think an NBA 2K8 rating has anything to do with out teams success and or failure. Although I do agree about Ron-Ron.

Anything, Nugg Dr I can't help but wonder why it seems you're being harder on the Nugs after this game than the prior. I don't know about you but I saw effort out there vs. the Pistons. That wasn't there against the Bulls or Bucks. I don't know if people realize we do have the talent, but the effort is rarely there.

We have the ability to play with ANYONE (and this is simple but important) if we TRY.

Jason said...

Well, I am late in coming in a response to this post...but better late than never as they say!

I appreciate your insights Nick, you are always the "Doctor" of insight for the Nuggets. Unfortunately, I wish this team and coaching staff would listen to the Doctors pleas!

You hit it on the head by saying this team has no leadership. I have been saying that in the circles I run since late last season. I really thought AI was going to bring that on-court leadership, but he hasn't. We are short the proper leader, and here is to hoping the FO can find that guy as a POINT GUARD. I agree in saying that the one area it seems Denver continues to ignore is PG. They could have landed Delonte West at the trade deadline and even though I don't think he was the answer, he is a better option than AC.

I just don't get this team...they play hard one second, and the next they look like they belong in a rec league for over 50!

Ugly basketball. I really do not enjoy watching this selfish unmotivated team much anymore to be honest.

I hope they make the playoffs, but in some sad twisted way I hope they miss them to help re-inforce the issues that need to be addressed on this team.