The Denver Nuggets extended their home-winning streak to 18 on Friday night against the visiting Brooklyn Nets. The Nuggets showed their dominance at home and beat the fourth-placed team in the East without team leader Ty Lawson.
Andre Miller got the start for Lawson and rookie Evan Fournier stepped up in his absence as well, scoring a career-high 19 points. The Nuggets outshot the Nets in all areas, despite struggling from beyond the arc once again. They made only four of 14, that’s 28.6 percent, but better than 25 percent from the Nets. The open looks were not as readily available without Lawson driving and dishing.
Lawson is day-to-day with a plantar fascia tear in his right heel. This is the same injury Pau Gasol suffered causing him to miss six weeks. It remains to be seen if Lawson’s injury will be as severe.
The Nuggets’ next game isn’t until Wednesday when they travel to play the Utah Jazz and attempt to end a two-game losing skid away from the Pepsi Center. Is four days off in a row what the team needs right now? It’s definitely good to have Lawson get as much time off as possible before the postseason starts, but is it good for the rest of the team?
We are talking about professional athletes, but even professionals can lose a step if they are away from the grind for too long. Too much time off from playing in an actual game might give the team too much time to think, leading to over-thinking on the court. The Nuggets play best when moving fast, causing turnovers and finishing fast breaks with a high-percentage shots. The best way to keep up the pace is not in practice, but in an actual game.
The Nuggets have some tough games down the homestretch, playing against some teams that are still fighting for a playoff spot and others that are already in. The last eight games of the regular season might quiet some doubters as to how cohesive and dangerous the Nuggets are leading into the postseason.
The Jazz are in the hunt for the postseason and beating them in their home building will be a strong test for the Nuggets with or without Lawson.
They also have to play the Dallas Mavericks, home and away, and Dirk Nowitzki seems to be playing for not only the playoffs, but for his future career.
Coach George Karl has been doing his thing for a while in the NBA, and it’ll be interesting to see how the team comes out in the first few minutes in Utah on Wednesday. Whatever the outcome, a blessing or a disaster, the four days off will be what everybody looks back to as the reason why.
Even without Lawson, the team has shown they can take control of a game with help from reserves, subs and starters. They’ve still got Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos and Kenneth ‘the Manimal’ Faried.
A main issue that remains with Lawson’s absence is the presence of a player that can sink the last shot to tie or win a game. Everybody has had a go at it, but Lawson remains the one with the most confidence and ability to make the shot.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Nuggets are a different team without Lawson. They currently sit in third place in the West, but let’s see if they can hold it down. With or without Lawson, they can at least win at home without him so home-court advantage is more important now than ever.