After an extended six game home stand, that spanned from the end of January through the beginning of February, the Denver Nuggets finally had to head back out on the road. Denver won all six of those home games, part of an overall eight game wining streak, but their play on the road is a bit inconsistent at times.
However, in their first road game this month it seemed like the Nuggets never even left home.
Prior to tonight’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers the Nuggets averaged a league high 115 points in their previous eight ball games and they almost matched that once again. Denver ONLY finished with 111 points tonight but they did it with tremendous balance amongst their starting rotation. Every single Nuggets player who played, besides Wilson Chandler, scored in double figures and they were once again led by forward Danillo Galinari who had 19.
It’s almost impossible to defend the Nuggets when they have the balance like they had against Cleveland. They are especially difficult to beat when they combine that balanced offense with a stingy defense. Against the Cavs, the Nuggets paired their 111 points with nine steals, eight blocks and they forced 15 turnovers. The notable reason for their nine game winning streak is their offense but what’s really prompting their winning ways has been their focus on the defensive end.
They traded for Andre Igoudala this off-season and one of the main reasons why they brought him in was to stabilize their defense. So far through the first half of the season, it may not look like it from their scoring defense averages, but Denver’s defense is greatly improved and with their athleticism there is no reason they shouldn’t be. Denver is second in rebounds per game, third in blocks and fourth in steals. It may not have the best defense in the league but when it plays focused on the defensive end it is one of the toughest teams to beat in the entire league.
Winning the first game of a road trip is a solid confidence booster for the rest of their games and that’s what this can do for the Nuggets. They travel to Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn before the All-Star break next week so a successful trip will be a nice way to close what’s been a tremendous first half.