The Nuggets are a stout 20-6 at home so far this year while the Wizards are only 9-13 on the road. Furthermore, the Nuggets already handed the Wizards a solid defeat, 118-92, earlier this year in a game that Allen Iverson only scored 15 points in. And, once again, the Nuggets statistically are the better team across the board.
Denver is currently shooting the most free-throws per game of any team in the league, making the most free-throws per game of any team of the league, grabbing the most defensive and total rebounds per game of any team in the league, force the most turnovers per game of any team in the league, and have the most potent scoring tandem in Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony (3rd and 4th in scoring, respectively). But why, with all the great statistical accomplishments, is this team still only in the seventh position in the Western Conference if the playoffs were to start today? Consistency.
The Nuggets are still taking quarters, and sometimes, entire halves off and are trying to rely on an instant burst which sometimes comes on too little, too late. If the Nuggets could just find some substance that they can rely on for all four quarters, whether it be offensive or defensive, this team could be extremely dangerous. For example, the Spurs always play great defense. Sometimes Manu, Tony, or Tim lead the offensive charge, but they can always rely on their solid team defense. A team like the Suns always plays high-octane offense. Their defense can be flighty, but they can rely on their offense being consistent and providing them consistent W’s. The Nuggets on the other hand can not honestly say they do either of these things with any consistency. They can give a team like the Bobcats 60+ points in the first half, but then only allow something like 35 points the rest of the game. Similarly, they can put up 70 points in a half, or they can flounder and only score in the high twenties over two quarters of play.
So, with that reflection of the first 48 games of the season, I can tell you right now that tonight’s game will boil down to which Denver Nuggets show up to play. The motivated, high-scoring, defensively stingy Nuggets will most definitely give me, and another 15,000 of the Nuggets Nation, a victory tonight at the Pepsi Center. The flighty, often times lackadaisical Nuggets could make this game a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be and potentially lose to a (less) talented Washington club. Marcus Camby is a question mark (as he will be for the rest of the season), but irregardless the Nuggets have the fire power to torch the Wizards if, and only if, they bring it after a physically and emotionally draining overtime loss against the Jazz on Wednesday night.
The beauty, and sometimes the beast, of the NBA is that you get to play almost every other day. Losses can easily be forgotten with wins or they can pile up and become a burden. Which is it going to be, Denver? You’ll show me tonight.