Tag:Denver Nuggets
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Karl says he'd rather play the Mavs than Thunder

Posted by Royce Young

The Nuggets have a pretty big game Friday night versus the Thunder. And not because Denver has a shot to catch Oklahoma City, because the Thunder already clinched the Northwest.

Nope, it's because if George Karl had it his way, he might prefer his Nuggets actually lose.

Via ESPN Dallas:
"If we had to pick and choose on it, we would probably say 55 percent Dallas, 45 percent Oklahoma City, only because Oklahoma City is athletic like we are and they have two great players," Denver coach George Karl told ESPN 103.3's Galloway and Company, referring to Thunder forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook. "They have two All-Stars who are really in their prime and have never won on the playoff stage. I just think right now our speed might have more effect against Dallas than it will against Oklahoma City."
OK, so maybe he doesn't really want to lose to the Thunder Friday, but it would definitely go a long way in pushing OKC to the three-seed. Right now, the Thunder are just a game back of Dallas with four to play. And OKC sort of has the upper hand. The Thunder actually own the tiebreaker over the Mavs despite losing the season series 2-1 because division winners get precedent.

But it's certainly interesting that Karl would be so candid about such a thing. Most when asked just play the "We're not thinking about them, just about us" card. Karl was honest. He doesn't like the matchup with OKC. He saw it first hand Tuesday night as the Thunder beat the Nuggets 101-94. With Kendrick Perkins inside on Nene and no one to guard Kevin Durant, Karl sees a very tough series ahead.

He's right though; Denver does match up much better. Karl has Wednesday night's 104-96 win in Dallas fresh on the brain and saw how his team really outquicked the Mavs to death. Dallas just doesn't have the horses to keep up with Denver's athletes.

Will it happen? We'll certainly have a better sense after Friday night, that's for sure.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 11:31 pm
 

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Are the Mavericks lying in wait or stumbling to the finish? 
Posted by Matt Moore




The Dallas Mavericks are in-between worlds right now. Like all of the top teams in the league, they're patiently waiting for the playoffs, waiting for the real games to begin. Middle-March through middle-April is a war of attrition, and after losing Caron Butler to a ruptured patellar tendon, the Mavericks are in no condition to take on more casualties. 

But there is the other side of it. You want to hit your stride right now. And the Mavericks aren't there. They've gone .500 over their last 16 games, including a pair of losses to Portland, a pair of losses to the Lakers, and losses to the Spurs, Hornets, and Grizzlies, all of whom they could see in the playoffs at one point or another. It's beginning to feel eerily similar to the Mavericks team we've come to know year after year. Monsters of the regular season, wilt down the stretch, kicked out of the first or second round in stunning fashion. This after a start to the year that had many whispering about being Finals contenders. After all, the Lakers have not met Dirk Nowitzki and his Mavericks in the playoffs during their run with the current core, and if anyone can match Pau Gasol's production, it's the Big German Machine. But now they're the team Portland and New Orleans are aiming for, trying to join the Warriors and Spurs as teams in the past four years to eliminate the Mavericks in the first round. 

But there is one differential here. The Mavericks know where they need to improve. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"We didn't shoot the ball well [the last three games] and so we spent some extra time today on shooting," Carlisle said. "Our first half against Portland was a setback. The rest of the trip I thought we played solidly on defense."

As the Mavs prepare for Wednesday's home game against Denver, they do so knowing that they have to pick up the pace on the offensive end of the floor.

"I think defensively it was actually a decent trip for us," Nowitzki said. "We've been sliding defensively here in the new year."
via Stretch run is no time to slow down | Mavericks/NBA | Sports News and Videos on the Dallas Co... .

Oddly enough, the Mavericks are playing Denver on Wednesday night for the right not to play them, in a way. A win would go a long way towards cementing Dallas as the No. 3 seed in the West. (Update: Mavs lose 104-96 to Denver, now are just a game above OKC for that No.3 seed.) But bigger than that is Dallas continuing to get their defense back in line. In the past 16 games, the Mavericks allowed 104 points per 100 possesions, which is significantly worse than their 10th ranked season defense in that category  (allowing 102.7).  What's most concerning, however, is the past four games of that road trip, which saw them give up an average of 108.3 points per 100 possessions, which is terrible on a whole other level. Yes, the Lakers game was an exception, but they also gave up over 115 per 100 possessions to the Blazers.  (Update: The Mavs gave up a 114 efficiency Wednesday night to the Nuggets.)  The Mavericks have to get back to more solid defense. 

More on the Mavs
How do they do that? Well, the easiest answer is to get Caron Butler back. But since he's out until at least the second round , the Mavericks will have to isolate their problems and find solutions. One significant issue is Jose Barea's role. Barea is a speedy, talented guard that plays his tail off every time he enters the game. He also has the worst defensive rating of any Maverick. And in March, with Shawn Marion battling injuries, The Mavericks were forced to play smaller. In April, Barea has played 25 minutes a game in both losses. The Mavericks need a better wing defender. What's particularly interesting is that the Mavericks' slide defensively coincides with increased time for Rodrigue Beaubois returning from injury. It'll be key to see how Rick Carlisle handles Beaubois in the playoffs.

Lost in the look at their record is the fact that Dallas dropped two back-to-back to Golden State and Portland at the end of a four game road trip. Which at the end of the season is a recipe for slogging off games. Our own Ben Golliver isn't concerned about Dallas , and he's right, this team still has the ability to buckle down and play elite ball in the Western Conference.  Dirk Nowitzki is still one of the best competitors in the game, Jason Kidd has played surprisingly well this season, they have center depth for the first time in years,  and when clicking, are one of the most dangerous teams in the league. 

But at some point they have to get into playoff gear. Wednesday night presents a fine opportunity to do so against the Nuggets. The Nuggets have the top offense in the land. The Mavericks need to find ways to exploit the talent advantages they have. Oklahoma City found out Tuesday night how stiff of a counter-punch the Nuggets can land. If the Mavericks don't right their defensive ship and get their heads together, they could be seeing a lost more of the Nuggets in the first round, an even scarier first-round prospect than Portland, Memphis, or New Orleans. Dallas knows what it needs to do. Getting there is another question. 

Deciphering whether the Mavericks are a contender getting their legs under them or an albatross crashing to the finish line is a puzzle that will be wrought between now and the end of their season. But uncertainty has seldom held the promise of success.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Video: Mozgov injures knee against Thunder

Posted by Royce Young

UPDATE: The Nuggets announced Timofey Mozgov out 10 to 14 weeks with Grade 1 MCL sprain in his left knee and a Grade 2 deltoid ligament sprain in left ankle.



Late in the first quarter of Oklahoma City and Denver's big Western Conference showdown, Nick Collison drew a charge from Kenyon Martin and fell into center Timofey Mozgov's right knee.

At first glance, it looks pretty serious. He's unlikely return to the game and the team says he will be evaluated after. Initially, it's being called a knee and ankle sprain.

If he's injured seriously, it's a pretty big blow to the Nuggets. Here's why: Against the Thunder, Kosta Koufos was seeing important minutes against Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. That should sort of say it all.

Denver is already a bit thin inside behind Nene and Kenyon Martin, so if Mozgov is out, that would give the Thunder an even bigger edge in the paint. And with the two teams on a crash course to play each other in the opening round, not having the big Russian could be a pretty large blow.
Category: NBA
Posted on: April 3, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 6:37 pm
 

So wait, how far can these Nuggets actually go?

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.
Posted on: April 1, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2011 1:18 am
 

Two weeks to go, the playoff picture is clearing

Posted by Royce Young



It's April. That's not an April Fools joke. It really is April.

That means mid-way through this month, about half the league will be done playing. And the other half's season will just be starting.

The NBA playoff picture is kind of like one of those 3D images where you have to cross your eyes to see it. It's all coming together, it's all becoming much more clear. We've almost zeroed in on the 16 teams that will be standing come April 16, but the back ends of the East and West still need some settling.

The most contested races right now are the crawl to eighth and the fight for second in the East and the battle for second and eighth in the West. But, really, nothing is all that certain. Let's try and clear this fuzzy playoff picture.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Battle for the top: Chicago (55-20), Miami (53-22, 2.5 back of CHI), Boston (52-23, 3.0 back of CHI)

It's a three-team race for the top spot in the East, with the Bulls appearing to have a pretty good grip on the situation. The Celtics have been slipping after appearing to have quite the handle on things. Then they traded Kendrick Perkins, everyone cried and things started to go bad.

Of course the Heat are lingering and a favorable schedule, they could realistically win out. That could very well slide them into at least the two spot and maybe push the Bulls for the top. Wouldn't that be something.

But it really looks like this is Chicago's conference to lose. The Celtics being three back is a pretty big gap to close and even with the Heat's nice schedule to close, the Bulls are just playing too good right now. They'll likely finish the way they stand now with it going Chicago, Miami, then Boston, which of course would mean the Heat would play New York in the opening round. That'll be fun.

Looking locked in: Orlando (47-28), Atlanta (44-32, 4.0 back of ORL)

There is a chance that Atlanta catches Orlando for the four-seed. It's about as likely as Robert Tractor Traylor staging an NBA comeback, but it's possible. The Magic currently hold a four-game lead over the Hawks, but Orlando's schedule of seven games is pretty easy to close.

The Hawks are finally playing some decent basketball and their 85-82 win over the Magic and a big 88-83 win over the Celtics Friday will be big confidence boosters leading in to an opening round series with Orlando. It looks like Atlanta will concede home court to the Magic, though. Everyone remembers the absolute destruction of the Hawks by Orlando in the opening round last season, and it didn't matter if those games were played on the moon, the Hawks weren't winning. Maybe things will be different this year, but I think we can be pretty sure this is the 4-5 matchup in the East.

Light jockeying: Philadelphia (34-36), New York (37-38, 2.5 back of PHI)


It's funny to look back at things people like me were writing after the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony. I actually questioned if the Knicks were contenders this year. We were all wondering if the Knicks could move up from six to maybe five and maybe even four. Now they're holding on to seventh with an outside chance to get to six.

I suppose there is even a chance the Knicks could go the other direction too. And, realistically speaking, they could still fall out of the playoffs entirely as they're only up 4.5 games on the Bobcats with seven to play. An unlikely fall, but certainly possible, especially with this erratic bunch. I think if you gave the Knicks another month they'd definitely be a candidate to drop out -- or maybe even rise some. Really, this group is hard to figure.

Philadelphia holds a two-game lead over the Knicks for sixth and with the way the two teams are playing, it looks pretty certain that that's the way they'll finish. They play each other one more time next week, so that game could be the decider.

The ugly dog contest: Indiana (35-42), Charlotte (32-43, 2.0 back of IND), Milwaukee (30-45, 4.0 back of IND)

This is where these three teams have to stop and ask themselves a very important question -- What's better for us: A first-round playoff exit and the money we make from two extra sold out home games, or a lottery pick and chance at good player?

Let's look at the three:

Indiana: It's definitely in their best interest to go ahead and get to the playoffs. For one, they've held the eighth spot for a large portion of the second half of the season, so falling out would feel kind of like a choke of some kind. Not really because when you're eight games under .500, you sort of choked the entire season anyway and just had the good fortune of playing in the East.

But they've built some decent momentum the last two months under interim coach Frank Vogel. And, behind the improvement of Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert plus some good players like Danny Granger and Darren Collison, the Pacers could win a game. Making the playoffs would serve them better than getting another young player to develop. They already have enough Paul George's.

Charlotte: They should tank away. They've won four straight and are just a game back, but they tried to mail in this season at the deadline when they gave away Gerald Wallace for very little. The Bobcats need more young talent and need to start building. A playoff berth really does them very little.

Milwaukee:
It doesn't matter. The Bucks already have been one of the season's bigger disappointments, so if they made the playoffs at least they'd have that to feel better about. Then again, they're going nowhere and could always use that higher pick to try and snag an offensive player.

The Bobcats probably have the toughest schedule which hurt them Friday losing to Orlando and the Pacers picked up a big one-point win over Milwaukee as well. It sort of feels like Charlotte is headed for the berth for some reason even though the Pacers definitely want it the worst. And Friday night's results go a long way toward helping Indiana's bid. Whatever the case, this whole thing is pretty ridiculous.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

The unexpected race for No. 1: San Antonio (57-19), Los Angeles (55-20, 2.5 back of SA)

Three weeks ago, the top spot in the West appeared to be a foregone conclusion. The Spurs were easily the best team in basketball -- record wise -- and were going to cruise to the No. 1 seed by six or seven games.

Then Tim Duncan got hurt. And then the Spurs dropped six in a row while the Lakers were running off nine straight. Then the gap closed to just 1.5 games with two weeks to play and both teams headed in different directions. Suddenly the Lakers actually had control of their own destiny to win the West.

Thing is, the Spurs aren't going to panic. They aren't going to worry about losing that lead. And if they do, they can live with it. That roster is too veteran, too mature and with Gregg Popovich, there's no anxiety there. Besides, I don't think they really care all that much about the difference between one and two, other than having that home court advantage over the Lakers.

The Lakers and Spurs do play one last time on April 12, so that game could be one to watch. But in all likelihood, the Spurs will regroup and finish up just strong enough to lock up the top seed.

The right to play L.A. in the second round -- or maybe the Spurs: Dallas (53-22), Oklahoma City (50-25, 3.0 of DAL)

The Mavericks are really in an interesting place. Technically they're just 1.5 back of the Lakers for second, but after Thursday's beatdown and the fact L.A. is the hottest team in the league, it feels like that race is over.

And now Dallas has to look over its shoulder just a bit at the Thunder who have been storming (see what I did there?) the past month (14-2 in March). The gap is 2.5 which is pretty big with only seven games left and most of the games on the road for OKC, it'll be difficult to catch Dallas.

Probably better for the Thunder too seeing as I think they'd prefer to have San Antonio in the second round instead of the Lakers. (Ironically if the Spurs keep losing, they might have to get to three. This is so confusing.)

OKC matches up much better with both since the Kendrick Perkins trade, but the Thunder has a better chance versus the Spurs to advance. Dallas is probably thinking the same thing though, especially after Thursday.

Locked in, sort of: Denver (46-29)

The Nuggets have been just outstanding the last month. Think about the mood after they dealt Carmelo Anthony. Most felt like an extra playoff spot had opened up in the West because it was a sure thing Denver would drop out.

Instead, they went up.

And if it weren't for the Thunder playing such fantastic basketball, the Nuggets would be pushing hard for the Northwest Division title and four-seed. But it doesn't look like they'll catch OKC who have a five-game lead. The Nuggets and Thunder do still play twice though and with the series at 1-1 this season, Denver could take the tiebreaker.

It's unlikely Denver would drop behind New Orleans (3.0 back) or Portland (2.5 back), but the Nuggets can't just coast into the five-seed. They appear to match up pretty well with OKC and would likely rather have the five-seed over six versus the Mavericks or seven versus the Lakers.

A real derby: Portland (44-32), New Orleans (43-33 (1.0 back of POR), Memphis (43-33, 1.0 back of POR), Houston (40-36, 3.0 back of MEM and NOLA)

After a very important Friday, the Blazers moved to sixth, the Hornets dropped to seven where they're tied with Memphis. The Rockets picked up a major win against San Antonio to stay three back of the eight spot.

Obviously the Hornets have an uphill battle to fight sans David West. Losing their best scorer is a major, major blow and one that will likely drop them down. Then again, so far without West the Hornets are 2-2 with a big win over Portland Wednesday. There was a bit of worry New Orleans could lose its playoff spot, but three games is a lot for Houston to make up in two weeks (though they do play one more time).

Portland really seems like the team set to get the six-seed. They have the most remaining healthy talent (that's a funny thing to say), are playing really well and don't have a killer schedule to finish. With a nice 99-91 win over the Thunder Friday, Portland finally reclaimed that six-seed and I don't see them losing it from here on out.

Memphis has a chance to either make up serious ground or lock themselves into eighth. The Grizzlies beat the Hornets Friday to knot things up and have one more New Orleans and one against Portland remaining.

And then Houston. I'm keeping them in the mix but a three-game deficit in six games is a lot to make up. The Rockets made their bed in November with their awful start.

Here's how I see this playing out: Portland is getting the six. They're too good, don't have a challenging schedule and have a lot of incentive to get the six because they match up well with Dallas. New Orleans, is falling. The Hornets are going to lose both games to Memphis and drop to eighth. Which is probably a blessing in disguise because they match up much better without West against the Spurs than they do against the Lakers.

And the Grizzlies will settle in at seven, playing the Lakers who they actually match decently against with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol inside. Give Memphis Rudy Gay for this series and I honestly see it going seven.

Right now, 20 teams are still in the playoff mix. In two weeks, it'll be down to 16. Sad that maybe the best race is between three teams a combined 30 games under .500. Such is life in the bottom half of the East.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 9:15 am
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Posted on: March 21, 2011 9:15 am
 

Kings face boycott over Anaheim relocation

A Sacramento man is encouraging fans to boycott Kings games because the franchise might relocate to Anaheim. Posted by Ben Golliver. maloofs

Day by day, the Sacramento Kings' potential relocation to Anaheim gets uglier and uglier. 

The latest turn features a direct backlash to the team's ownership group, the Maloof family, as News10.net reports that a Sacramento man is calling on the team's fans to boycott an upcoming game as retribution for the team's relocation plans.
Doug Elmets of Elmets Communications is urging fans to boycott the April 1 game against the Denver Nuggets. Playing off the earlier campaign waged by loyal fans called "Here We Stay," Elmets is calling his boycott "There They Go."
"Every indication is that the Kings are going to be leaving. And why should we, in the final few games, be rewarding the Maloofs by putting more money in their pocket and selling out these games," Elmets asks.
"Let's take one game, one game only -- the one that is most appropriately on April 1, April Fools Day, and boycott that game," he suggested.
The Kings, who have already been eliminated from the playoffs, host the Denver Nuggets on April 1. 

The folks in the "Here We Stay" movement would counter Elmets' argument by saying that hope still exists, despite all the warning signs. One possible snag in the relocation effort, SacTown Royalty notes, surrounds a possible delay in renovation funding for Anaheim's Honda Center, something that would be necessary for an NBA team such as the Kings to play there.

The boycott concept really isn't all that logical here, at least not yet. There is plenty of time for spite and anger should the Kings finally decide to relocate. A deal isn't done until it's all the way done, and, unfortunately, its the Maloofs' team so they hold all the cards. The "Here We Stay" campaign has made so much sense because it appeals to basic emotional concepts -- loyalty, family, shared history -- that have the potential to change someone's opinion even if doing so isn't in their financial best interest. A boycott only encourages a dismissive response.

In other words, continue to hold out hope, Kings fans, as long as hope still exists. 

h/t: HoopsHype
Posted on: March 14, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Felton says Denver's better than NY; are they?

Posted by Royce Young



It's too early to say that the Nuggets won the Carmelo Anthony trade, right? No way that the team that gave up Melo actually ended up with the better squad, right? It's not possible that the Nuggets are actually better than the Knicks, right?

Right?

Raymond Felton, who was part of gaggle of players sent to Denver for Melo and Chauncey Billups, says exactly that.

"We're a better team (than New York), I feel like. That's it," Felton told HoopsHype.

Marinate on that comment for minute because I know your initial reaction is to say no way. No way the Knicks, with Melo, Amar'e Stoudemire and Billups, are worse than the Nuggets who are built around Danilo Gallinari, Felton, Ty Lawson and Nene.

But so far, it's tough to argue with. The Nuggets are 7-2 post-trade and have gone from a prime candidate to slip out of the West to actually climbing to the No. 5 seed which they appear to have a strong hold of. Denver has had the good fortune of an easier schedule than the Knicks and with games against the Hornets, Hawks, Magic and Heat, the Nuggets might come back to earth a bit.

The Knicks have looked terrific at times but also have sputtered in trying to work in their new superstar. Since acquiring Melo and Billups, New York has gone 6-5, but that was against decent competition with some wins against good teams (Miami, New Orleans, Utah, Atlanta and Memphis). If the Knicks just hadn't dropped the ball twice against the Cavs, things wouldn't look near as rough. Plus, Billups has missed a few of the last games.

It's obviously premature to make a call on this because in the long run, the Knicks probably will come out better. But with the way things have panned out, it makes Masai Ujiri look that much better for the way he strung out this thing to get the best possible deal for Denver.

I do wonder what would happen between the Knicks and Nuggets in a seven-game series. Right now, I think Denver would have the edge because it seems like they've bought in more to the new system. The Nuggets are playing much better defense now than they were earlier in the year and have a unit that seems very cohesive and together.

Melo is now New York's defensive problem. George Karl said in a radio interview with 104.3 The Fan in Denver recently that the team made big strides defensively since the trade, even saying the Nuggets were "cheating the game" on the defensive end with Melo.

“I don’t think there’s any question that our personality of trying to get ‘Melo to be a little bit more involved with how we wanted to play versus his talent, which is scoring points," Karl said. "There’s a value to that and I have a lot of respect for what ‘Melo can do for a team. I don’t think you’re ever going to be a bad team with ‘Melo’s personality, but you’ve gotta work around his personality a little bit. I think sometimes the team is more important than the individual. You need individual talents, you need individual skills, you need the ability to score, but we were just cheating the game so much on the defensive end of the court, cheating the game in some offensive situations that I didn’t think we were getting enough team into the game as much as we were just getting scoring into the game.”

Are the Nuggets better than the Knicks? Right now, I think so. They've figured out each other while the top-heavy stockpiled talent in New York hasn't quite yet. But it's definitely premature to declare a winner here. I do think we can definitively say though that Denver came out a little better than everyone originally thought though.

Via Sports Radio Interviews

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com