The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of a competitive battle for home-court advantage in the NBA Playoffs. They currently sit in fourth, narrowly behind the Los Angeles Clippers. The Memphis Grizzlies are one game behind in fifth.
With the Nuggets winning streak coming to a halt at the New Orleans Hornets, the importance of having Ty Lawson on the court becomes more and more clear. The last few games the team barely squeaked out wins against non-playoff bound teams, finally losing BIG to the lowly Hornets. Lawson is a game-time decision on Wednesday at the San Antonio Spurs and if he doesn’t suit up look for the Nuggets to struggle once again.
Lawson helps the team do the things they’ve grown accustomed to doing. They play faster which allows them to score easier baskets in the paint. The Nuggets lead the league in fast-break points for a reason. Andre Miller just turned 37 and can definitely be clutch, he just doesn’t bring the same dynamic as Lawson.
Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried shine once every few games, but without Lawson everybody seems ice cold. Wilson Chandler came back from an injury in a losing effort and he definitely showed a little rust not only because of his shoulder, but he also seemed to miss the pace of an actual game. The centers for Denver, Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee, also seem to struggle without the dishing abilities of Lawson. Their open shots and easy lay-ins are nowhere to be found of late and the lanes to the basket don’t seem nearly as open.
Lawson has missed three in a row and even with a big game against the Spurs coming up next, I think it’s important not to rush him back. The Nuggets are in great position to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason, with 10 games to go we need him to be 100 percent and not susceptible to re-injury.
Denver has only four more road games in the regular season, the first Wednesday against San Antonio. They also play the Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks on the road. Even if they only win two of these road games the Nuggets should still be in good shape.
The Grizzlies and Clippers both have 12 games to go with seven on the road. The Nuggets are looking solid to keep a home-court spot with six games to play at the Pepsi Center. They host the Brooklyn Nets, Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers and close out the season against the Phoenix Suns.
The Nuggets are tied with the Miami Heat for the best home record in the NBA so it’s safe to assume they will stay hot heading into the playoffs, with their home-court advantage, of course.
Denver has shown recently that it can beat the tough teams even on the road, but the postseason is a whole new ball game. It’s always best to play at home and not have to travel for a pivotal win-or-go-home game and the Nuggets are on pace to have that luxury.