Denver Nuggets: Five Reasons Another First-Round Loss is Coming
It's a Rite of Spring
In the world of sports, coaches talk about the need for consistency and how hard it is to achieve. The Denver Nuggets have achieved an amazing record of consistency; the problem is it is the wrong kind of consistency. That’s not completely true, the Nuggets do win 50-55 games every season and there is something to be said for that. However, those wins are not leading to anything and the Nuggets are the same team every year. They win their 50+ games that include a series of mind-boggling losses, and then they get blown out in the first-round of the playoffs.
The only exception was the run to the Western Conference Finals following the 2008-09 season. For one season, Chauncey Billups was able to get the Nuggets to play the right way. He even got Carmelo Anthony to buy in to the team concept and the Nuggets really were one of the best four teams in basketball. Even the leadership and professionalism of Billups could not carry the Nuggets beyond that season. He became frustrated with the selfish play of Anthony and others, and finally gave up trying. The Nuggets were beaten in the first-round by the Utah Jazz that season despite having home-court advantage.
Anthony has been gone for over four years now and the players have changed, but the story remains the same. The Nuggets have been good this season, sometimes very good but the script is very familiar. They are headed for 54 or 55 wins and another first-round exit.
Here are the five reasons why the Nuggets will lose, again, in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs.
Free Throw Shooting
In the playoffs where games are close and points are hard to come by, free throws are huge and the Nuggets are terrible when it comes to shooting free throws. As a team, the Nuggets shoot below 70% from the line and it has cost them games in the regular season. Make no mistake, it will cost them a game in the playoffs and the Nuggets are not good enough to give games away in a seven game series.
The playoffs are dominated by half-court play and fast breaks are hard to come by. That’s a huge problem for the Nuggets because they are terrible in the half-court. They do not have a post player who can get his own shot and outside of Ty Lawson, no one else can create off of the dribble. If the Nuggets get into a half-court game in the playoffs, it will be a short stay.
The half-court problems for the Nuggets extend to the defensive side of the floor as well. Opposing teams are able to get whatever shot they want when they are able to get into their offense. The Nuggets can play good team defense but their one-on-one defense is not good. In the playoffs, the good teams will find ways to exploit those matchups especially as the series progresses.
Every possession is huge in the playoffs and rebounding leads to extra possessions, and the Nuggets struggle on the defensive side of the floor. To their credit, they are a very good offensive rebounding team but they cannot get a big defensive rebound to save their lives. The Nuggets give up far too many second chance points and that will hurt them in a seven-game series.
On the whole, I like George Karl and he is an excellent regular season coach but his playoff record leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn’t adjust to what the other teams do, either during the game or between games. The time has come for the Nuggets to say thank you to Karl for his contributions, and move onto the next guy. It’s quite apparent that he has taken this team as far as he can, the first-round.
The Nuggets are the most consistent team in all of sports, you know exactly what you are going to get year in and year out. They are going to win their fair share of games in the regular season, they will win a game or two in the playoffs and then they will bow out. They may not win a championship but they are consistent, that’s something I guess.
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