Sunday, March 9, 2008

Disaster on the Horizon

(Boulder-CO) If you're sitting at home thinking the Nuggets still have a good shot of making the playoffs this year then you've come to the wrong sports column.
The end is near and I don’t think the Nuggets Nation is going to like where I think this train is going to stop. Currently out of the playoffs, as the Nuggets are still two games removed from the eighth seed, with only 20 games left to play. Denver has arguably the toughest road to the postseason remaining with eleven road games including match-ups with eleven current playoff bound teams. Meanwhile, since the All-Star break, which Denver sent two Western Conference starters to, Denver is a mediocre 5-5 and displays all the signs of a team ready to unravel.

For starters, smack dab in the middle of this homestretch is a five-game, including a pair of back-to-back sets, Eastern Conference road swing. It starts with a trip up to Motown against the Pistons of whom the Nuggets have had no recent success against. From the Motor City, the Nuggets stop in the City of Brotherly Love to see old friends Andre Miller and Reggie Evans and the playoff bound Philadelphia 76ers. This pivotal week also makes the Nuggets stop in Toronto (playoff bound) and New Jersey (who is fighting for their playoff lives). I think the Nuggets will be fortunate to emerge from this five-game jaunt with three wins, but anything more than that would be over-optimistic and the possibility for fewer is certainly there. The sole gimmie (if you think there is such a game for these Nuggets) on the trip is the last stop at Memphis where the Nuggets need to get some bar-b-que, a win, and back to Pepsi Center as fast as humanly possible.

Another stretch of games that has me worried is the final road trip of the year. In the first seven of the final ten days of the regular season, the Nuggets have a four-game swing up and down the West coast starting with the Sonics, Clippers, and Warriors before finishing off in Salt Lake City for the final Nuggets v. Jazz game of the season. This late in the season is when teams like the Sonics and Clippers can be dangerous because they have nothing more to play for other than ruining another teams season (misery loves company). The Clippers have even beaten the Nuggets this year… So have the Warriors who are hot (7-3) since the break. And the Jazz seem to only be beatable if a Nugget burns the nets for 40+ points.

Also sprinkled in the final 20 games are road games against the Spurs and Suns and home games against the Raptors, Mavericks, Warriors, Suns, and Rockets; all of whom are playoff bound. Sheesh, can’t we just play Seattle and Memphis a couple of more times? OK, the basketball gods have smiled upon the Nuggets as they do see the Grizzlies to finish the regular season at the Pepsi Center, but what worries me is the road that lies ahead may make that game merely an exhibition game, and a for few on Kroenke’s payroll, a farewell affair.

I still stand by my prediction that the Nuggets needed to win 53 games to make this year’s postseason pack of eight. At this point, that means the Nuggets have to win 15 of the aforementioned 20 remaining games. A task that I don’t see getting accomplished.

Last year’s Nuggets were 47-35 and disposed of quickly (4-1) by the Spurs after lighting a fire underneath San Antonio in game one. This year’s Nuggets need to fare 10-10 in their last 20 games to even match last year regular season record that mark would surely leave them finished after game 82.

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve sat there a read yet another Nugg Doctor article and just said to yourself, “Seriously, Denver has to be a .500 team just to match last year’s efforts and probably has to win 15 of their last 20 games to possibly make the playoffs?”
To which I have to sadly tell you is all too true. I know, I know, I couldn’t believe it when I took an overview of the situation this afternoon either, but now it is painfully clear to me that the Nuggets are probably going to be done after 82 games. Roughly translated, that means with whatever record they arrive at. Without a playoff birth, this season was a failure. And for Stan Kroenke, who has certainly not seen a return on the fourth highest payroll in the NBA, this season was a financial disaster.


ThaAnswer said...

While I agree with your concerns Doc, I think you're taking them to quite a negative extreme. I do understand we want to avoid disappointment so we underestimate now, but look at a couple things. Most of the teams in the West have gone on very long win streaks this season and could just as easily lose 3 in a row at any time. That may be all we need.

It is probably safe to agree we most likely are fighting for the 8 spot (barring a rough end to the season for PHO or DAL).

22 games left for us and GS. Both teams with 10 home and 12 road games. Golden State's record against teams left to play is 19-10. And for our Nuggets? 15-9. There is hope in that fact folks. We only need to make up 2 games at this point, and we still have two games with the Warriors.

4 of our last 7 games are against non playoff teams. But the Warriors, 14 of their last 22 are against teams over .500 with eight on the road.

I'm not ready to give up on the Nuggets quite yet, so until we're mathematically eliminated (I feel like Mike Huckabee) I think we're going to make it.

Tomorrow will be tough, but the Spurs did play today and lose. They have to travel for this second back to back, a formula which worked for us last time. Too bad we struggle so on the road.

Go Nuggets!

Kieran said...

I think that 50 wins means you're in. If the Nuggets go 13-7 AND beat Golden State for the Tie Breaker, they will be in. Anything less and they're out. Alternatively, if the Nuggets win 50 and beat the Suns twice, that might get them in, too.

Sadly, I don't think it's going to happen.


Pick-n-Roll said...

Boys, what you need to realize is that it's a team game...The run & gun style of play while exciting is not going to make you a better basketball team.I look at your team and all I see is athletes...Camby is unbelievable but he can't be the only defense stopper you have..

Melo is easliy is a top 5 scorer but look at what he could be...He should be a top 5 player in the league. Melo play with your heart and check your ego at the door..

AI..Well now this guy has guts and I and he leaves everything on teh court, but he also needs to check that ego at the door. Yeah he might leave everything on the court but does he makes his team better, NO!

Until the Nuggs become structured and check all ego's at the door the Northwest Division will continue to go through Utah or the upcoming Blazers.

"You can obeserve a lot from watching" Yogi Berra.

EY The Scribe said...

So since the demise is emminent, what's gonna happen with the inevitable 14th pick this year. I can't remember if we keep it, or it goes to Philly (for AI).

You can't find defense in the draft, but you can find young playmakers. Personally, I would love to see someone like Ty Lawson fall the the Nuggs at that spot.

Oh happy days...