Sorry for posting this so late, but due to a late night of high school basketball I did not finish watching the game until late last night and then I actually had to do work at work today. If anyone out there is really upset I will have you talk to my boss.
I guess if anyone gets upset reading that it would be my boss.
The Nuggets had the chance to make a statement right out of the blocks to start the "second half" of the season and make a statement they did.
The game was pretty tense from start to finish as both teams proved how badly they wanted to win. Play was physical and I think that really helped the crowd get into it. It seemed like the crowd was great even through the television. (User ExhibitA says the crowd was indeed great as wrote a very good diary with a first hand account of his experience at the game.)
Playing a team like Boston, even with KG obviously not at 100%, it is not just enough to play hard, in order to win the Nuggets had to execute as well. They did on both ends of the floor.
Melo was tremendous offensively, and by the time AI got it cranked up in the fourth the Nuggets had put together a very good offensive game against a team that absolutely smothered them in the first meeting of the season. The one negative on offense was the combined ten turnovers between Melo and AI.
Obviously the Nuggets were not able to shut Boston down, but they did make things hard on them. Apart from a short span at the end of the first quarter where Ray Allen looked like Jesus Shuttlesworth the Nuggets made the Celtics work hard for their points. They did not make a lot of gambles for steals, Melo played very hard when he was guarding Paul Pierce and Camby was tremendous as the last line of defense sending back shot after shot. The key to many of Camby’s blocks was the Nuggets defensive positioning. Many times a Celtic would drive to the hoop and not be able to elevate because his defender was close enough to prevent the Celtic from fully gathering himself and exploding to the rim. Because of that the Celtics put up quite a few soft tosses that Camby just ate up.
Once again we see the Nuggets step up in a big game and once again we have to hope they play just as hard against a couple of weaker teams on the road. We will see if Denver believes that games in Chicago and Milwaukee count as much as games against Boston and Portland.
Other Observations From Game 53:
- Iverson had a very interesting night. He was hounded by the quick, long and sturdy Rajon Rondo for most of the night. When AI did get some room to operate the Celtics employed their great team help defense to prevent him from getting those shots in the lane he thrives on. After a rough first half, AI hit a few shots from the perimeter, but he made most of his damage from the free throw line. AI took 13 free throws in the final 14 minutes of the game.
- Kenyon Martin stepped up on offense hitting on a variety of short jumpers, layups and dunks. He showed very good aggressiveness and shot selection. His continued growth as the season has progressed is a big reason why the Nuggets are a season high 13 games over .500.
- I was pretty disappointed in J.R. Smith’s shot selection after he first entered the game. Typically when he comes in taking bad shots you can count on him being a non factor for the rest of the night, but he quit taking the bad threes and started working hard on defense. Even when J.R. is working hard on defense, you can almost always count on seeing him get out of position three or four times, but last night he played much more soundly and was a big reason why they won and why Ray Allen did not stay hot all night long.
- Klieza showed why he should be traded and why he should not be traded all in the same game. In the first half he sprained his ankle when he was all by himself just trying to change directions. At that point I was saying, get this klutz to Memphis pronto. Then Kleiza hit two big threes in the fourth quarter to give Denver a ten point lead that left me saying, "Mike Miller who?"
- The interesting thing regarding this game was it was the last one before the trade deadline. Denver has now won seven of their last nine games. Obviously, you never want to miss an opportunity to make your team better, but the problem with the Nuggets has always been less an issue of talent than an issue of what goes on between their ears. The next fourteen hours are going to be very important in the long history of the Nuggets.
Head on over to Green Bandwagon to see what Boston fans thought about the Celtics first loss to a Western Conference team.