Blog Entry

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

Posted on: April 3, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 6:37 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Nobody expected to be asking this question. I don't think even in his heart of hearts George Karl thought the Nuggets would be in the position for someone to ask it. More than a month after trading away the apparent franchise player, the Nuggets didn't dip. In fact, they did the complete opposite.

They rose.

You've heard the number a ton already, but I'll say it again: Since trading Anthony, Denver is an astonishing 15-4 and winners of seven straight, most recently with a terrific road win against the red hot Lakers. Again, I don't even the most optimistic people saw this streak coming. The feeling was the Nuggets made 50 cents on the dollar with the trade, getting quality pieces back but nothing comparable to Anthony. That's sort of the situation you face when trading a star. No matter the return, it's not as good as what you're sending out.

But the Nuggets clearly found something. They found a unit that works together, understands a philosophy entirely and has settled into roles and bought into a culture. There isn't a crunch time star to run things through. But there are a number of really solid players that are flourishing under Karl.

Not only are the Nuggets winning, but they've played every game well. They haven't really had a bad night. Their four losses were by a combined 15 points. And they came against the Magic, Heat, Blazers and Clippers. Yeah they Clipper loss isn't great, but it was at Staples where the Clips are 22-18 and have beat a lot of good teams. Not really a bad loss.

So the Nuggets have already accomplished the first goal, the one that appeared to be a longshot when general manager Masai Ujiri decided to finally cut ties with the Melodrama. They are going to go to the playoffs. Currently, the magic number is at one. A lone win or a Houston loss puts Denver in. And they are still in the rearview of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Northwest Division title and the four-seed in the playoffs.

Because that's where things have advanced to -- playoffs. No longer is it just about getting there, but now it's a new mission and a new question: Can the Nuggets actually make some noise?

It almost seems like we've all dismissed that as an option because of the lack of starpower. It's like people are saying, "Yeah the way they've played the last month is cute, but they aren't built for the postseason." But here's what wins in the playoffs: good basketball. And what do the Nuggets play? Good basketball.

On both ends, they've become a fundamentally sound unit that defends, moves the ball, cuts, runs and finishes. They are still scoring but instead if 60 percent coming from two players, it's now evenly distributed out among a number of guys. I think the toughest type of team to defend is one that have five, not one, players on the floor at a time capable of scoring. And not scoring as in making a bucket here or there. I mean capable of putting up double-digits consistently. George Karl deserves Coach of the Year consideration just for getting J.R. Smith to buy in to playing well with others. That honestly says it all.

Is this a team just built to contend for the Western Conference Finals? I mean, really? Well look at it this way: Most everyone the Nuggets play talk about how good they're playing and how scary they are. Put this group in a series where they need four wins and I don't think many teams would want to play them. They match up just about everywhere, have shooters, have two good point guards, have a big man that can rebound and score, have a really good bench and have an enforcer in the middle that adds toughness. They're built for anything.

One thing that makes a team more dangerous than anything is confidence. A belief in self, along with the 11 other guys on your team and the system you play in makes a team scary. It's how you see runs like what Butler has put together two straight years in the NCAA tournament. They believe in one another. They trust each other. And they just feel unbeatable, no matter what. Establishing that mentally was the top priority for Karl once the trade went through and he's absolutely succeeded.

The concern for them heading into the postseason is how they perform on the road where they're just 17-22. But Sunday's win in Los Angeles is a pretty good example of how they might be able to get over that. The Nuggets absolutely grinded one out versus the Lakers, playing hard nosed defense, by grabbing a couple key offensive rebounds and by moving the ball for good looks in crunch time. The Western Conference was already very aware of this Nugget team, but Sunday's win against the defending champs certainly raised a few more eyebrows.

But let's not get too carried away though. Winning in the playoffs isn't easy, no matter who you are or how well you're playing. You've got to beat a good team four times. That's tough, no matter how good you feel. And it will likely start versus the Thunder, a team that features a two-headed monster in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook plus ample size and toughness inside. Certainly, it will be a fun, but very difficult series.

The Nuggets are definitely capable of moving on though, but it's not like they're a favorite. It's not like most will give them much of a shot. Which means they'll be flying exactly where they want to be -- under the radar.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:59 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

Wasn't it not only 2 seasons ago where the Nuggets had the best record in the West and lost in the WCF?

Nope, it wasn't 2 seasons ago.  In fact, that's never happened.  So try again.

The Nuggets were a more dangerous playoff team with Anthony and Billups whether you'd like to admit that or not.

And how do you know that exactly?  This Nuggets team hasn't even played a playoff game yet.  The Melo/Billups team won two series in two years.  I think this Denver team is capable of matching that.

Since: Nov 16, 2010
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:49 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

I don't think they will go far this year. Yet it seems to be looking like they will be a good team for years. They now have a team of a lot of good players and not a few great players. They actually play D as a team and offense the same way. With Melo they played no D and did not play well as a team. As we see with Melo looks like the Knicks are same way he was with Nuggets. Poor teamwork on both sides of the ball. Karl is a great coach and is showing it.

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:43 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

The Nuggets/OKC is a 9 game series.  They still play twice.  If you don't think they will be playoff games, think again.

OKC is NOT a better team than Denver.  If you know whom you must stop to win the series, DURANT, the game become a little easier.  There are several guys that can get it done for Denver.  How do you game plan that?  Stop Melo, stop Denver..

It will be a great series, probably better than the actual Finals.

Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:37 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

Confidence can advance you deep into the post season in any sport; except NCAA Football, of course.  It's refreshingly amazing how well the Nuggets look now that they've excised that malignant tumor Carmelo.  Coach Karl is an inspiration in and of himself and their momentum is strong.  They seem to give the Lakers some grief so that could be a fun series to watch.  Since the Jazz are out of the playoff hunt this season, and quite possibly much, much longer, I think I have to pull for my division foes.  I'll pull for the Thunder first because Kevin Durant is a humble stud and Russell Westbrook is the real deal, then the Nuggets.  I can't wait for playoffs!

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:33 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

FYI, I think Kobe was GLAD Denver traded him!  He doesn't have to deal with him anymore.  However, I'll almost guarantee the Nuggets has his attention again in a bigger way.  Stop Melo, stop Denver.  Denver is deep.  Maybe not this year but this team will stay together and good things will happen.  I'm a Durant fan.  I've been to 10 games this year.  But let them play the game before you say they don't have a chance.

See, a TRUE fan of this game just wants great basketball.

Since: Dec 1, 2010
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:32 pm

How far can these Nuggets actually go?

Please keep in mind our Nuggets won without Anderson and Affalao. I also know Bynum was out a majority of the game for the Lakers.  I hope the get to meat in the Western Conference finals.  I agree Denver did not close the game strong but this win was still a BIG confidence builder for them heading into the playoffs.  Beating L.A. in L.A. was a must win for Denver.  Now they just need to beat OK the next two times we play them and we just might get home court advantage in the first round.  I must say I was dissappointed Koby ran off the court like a spoiled superstar instead of shaking hands.  Great player but not such a great sportsman. I didn't approve of Martins antics at the end of the game either.  Show some class Martin.  

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:26 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

The Lakers have home court in their control, blah blah on the game dates.  What a poor excuse, they have everything to gain by winning!

I just love guys who say they will win, they don't have a chance, then the games are played and Butler is in the Championship game.  So what I'm saying is STFU and let them play and at the end of the day the better team will win.  Just like Billips always says, the ball never lies!

As far as Melo, etc.  The Nuggets are a FAR better team without him.  NY and SNL can have him.  Until he plays defense and until he looses that big a$$ chip on his shoulder, he will just be a good player.  He needs to Google, Bird and Dr. J's and the Magic Johnsons and learn something from them...  TEAM GAME!

Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:20 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

It's nice to see how much time you have on your hands but what exactly have the Nuggets won?  They have played well as a team since the trade but noone sees this current team as a title contender.  Wasn't it not only 2 seasons ago where the Nuggets had the best record in the West and lost in the WCF?

The Nuggets were a more dangerous playoff team with Anthony and Billups whether you'd like to admit that or not.

Since: Sep 14, 2008
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:11 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

There is no way they beat Oklahoma City in the 1st round.  We can pull up this article after the 1st round if you'd like?
Who knows what will happen in the first round.  OKC is great and will have home court.  I'm guessing they will win.
But, speaking of pulling up articles, let's pull up some of your previous comments.
<h4 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; font-style: italic; color: #828282;">Nets-Nuggets can't agree on framework for Melo ... January 19, 2011 1:04 am
This is what you get Denver fans when the owner lets his spoiled brat son take over the franchise. He is so used to getting what he wants and thinks he can hold out for exactly that. No KRONKE, Melo will be gone and you will be left picking up the pieces.
Well, here we are picking up the pieces.  Our spoiled team owner and his son traded away the superstar and got back a bunch of guys who play team ball.  Who knows how they will do in the first round (besides you, I guess).  But, just keep throwing out what you "know" will happen and sometimes it just might.
Besides, even "when" the Nugs lose in the first round, how much worse is that than last year?  From going to the Western Conference Finals to losing in the 1st round to Utah...they were just not getting it done.  As a fan, I can live with losing to better teams in the playoffs.  I was sick of seeing a talented team lose in the playoffs because they didn't play hard.  All I know is  they are a heck of a lot more entertaining to watch now.

Why do the Lakers need your explanations or excuses?  They are still the champs and probably the best team in the NBA.  If I had to bet on a team winning it again, that is where my money goes.  It was a nice win by the Nuggets on the road.  No more, no less.

Since: Sep 14, 2008
Posted on: April 3, 2011 7:36 pm

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

Prepare for the Rockie Mountain low, Nuggets fans. You should be used to it by now.
What does that mean??  Where are these Rockie Mountains you speak of?  

I'm looking at your posts from back in February about how great the Knicks starting 5 will be.  Who knows how it will turn out, but you can't even compare right now.  You got the superstar, and the Nuggets got a bunch of nice players.  One team is under .500 and the other is 14-4.  Hmmmmm...
They'll be out after round 1. Oklahoma City will beat them and beat them badly.

As far as preparing for the low, I love that you're a Knicks fan trolling on this page.  Throw out enough "guarantees" and one is sure to come true.  I think the Thunder are a better team right now and should be favored in a series.  What guarantees should we throw back at you??
Go back to the Knicks page and commiserate about how happy you are with the trade.  I personally liked Melo, and he got to go where he wanted to.  He also played his A$$ off until the trade, so I give him nothing but credit.  I also like watching the Nugs better now than I did for the last 2 years.  
Trust me, even if Denver gets beat in the first round, we fans won't be upset about it.  They were bounced in the first round last year by Utah and they had Melo.  At least they work as a team and actually play D.  That hasn't happened here in years.

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