The Denver Nuggets needed to be defensive. They embarrassed themselves at the start of their seven game road trip by being blown out in consecutive games against Utah and Minnesota. However, as evidenced by their win over the Bulls, the Nuggets can play basketball. The best strategy is using their many talented pieces in a team basketball game.
The Nuggets have 11 players in their rotation who can contribute at the moment. The odd men out, Birdman Chris Anderson, plays only from time to time, Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton play sparingly and Rudy Fernandez is done for year. This leaves Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, and Timofey Mosgov.
With that line up the Nuggets have room for players who are injured or suspended, as Afflalo was against the Timberwolves. The Nuggets should have enough guys to make up for those who are having an off night. They should be able to take guys out who refuse or are unable to play team basketball.
Of course, team basketball is what wins games. The Nuggets held the NBA best Chicago Bulls to only 91 points, and are now 8-7 month of March. While the Bulls were without Derrick Rose, the Nuggets defensive effort and team basketball is ultimately what allowed them to prevail in the third game of a seven game road tour. The Nuggets had 24 assists and five players scored in double digits. Afflalo had 22 points and Lawson had 27.
The Nuggets currently sit in ninth place but are one and a half games of fourth place in the west. The Nuggets have struggled. They are 10-11 since the middle of February. On a nine game home stand where they needed a knockout, they managed just a 5-4 record. They have 16 games remaining in the regular season. After 65 games, will the Nuggets be in the playoff fold?
There is no doubt that this is a talented team. General Manager Masai Ujiri has done an incredible job along with Josh Kroenke of turning the Carmelo situation into a budding talent pool, but now it’s up to the players to elevate their game. Coach George Karl can preach team basketball until he’s blue in the face, but this is truly the Nuggets only shot at making noise in this warped season. Otherwise, the Nuggets will be out of the playoffs for the first time since 2003, the year they drafted Carmelo Anthony third in the draft.