As the 2012-2013 NBA season began, the Denver Nuggets had the toughest start out of any other team in the league. Almost all of their first 32 games were on the road against some of the top teams in the league, so they played only 10 games at home over the first two months.
For the most part the Nuggets survived the gauntlet, finishing the month of December with a 17-15 record. At times during the early part of the season, Denver looked like they could compete with the best teams in the Western Conference while at other times, they resembled a mediocre group of players who can’t shoot outside the paint.
Denver is probably the most frustrating team to watch in the entire league because they have a deep, talented roster, but if they want to realize their preseason expectations, they will have to put together a great month of January.
After starting out the season on the road practically every night, the Nuggets will have a bevy of home games in the month of January and they will need to take advantage of them. So far, they are 3-1 in January (2-1 at home) and they are coming off a gritty road win against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
As they embark on the rest of the month, they have 11 games remaining, nine of them at the Pepsi Center where the Nuggets have lost just two games. Denver is currently second in the Northwest Division, seven and a half games behind leader Oklahoma City, and they are in seventh place in the Western Conference. They have plenty of opportunities to make up ground in the conference as well as the division.
Two of Denver’s next 11 games are against the Thunder and although they can’t make up the entire gap between them and the division leader, they can get an upper hand on the season series. The Nuggets play their first games against OKC this month, a team they struggled to beat last year, and it will be a chance to cement themselves amongst the upper echelon teams in the conference. Denver went just 1-2 against the Thunder during last year’s shortened season, but they match up better with the OKC this year with the addition of Andre Igoudala.
The Nuggets traded for Igoudala, one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league, in order to be able to guard the other team’s best players. His services will especially come in handy against a team like the Thunder with star players in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Igoudala is familiar with both players, having played with them this summer on the Olympic gold medal winning USA team.
If Denver wants to set up any type of advantage for potential playoff seeding, they will have to have a phenomenal January. The Nuggets can’t let the opportunity of nine out of 11 home games slip away or else they will be prime for poor playoff seeding and another potential first-round exit from the NBA playoffs.