2007-2008 Game 74: Nuggets/Suns

Judging by the way the Suns looked on March 5th it appeared these two games against them might not bee all that difficult.  They were struggling on defense and Shaq was just not fitting in.  

Now I am a little more worried.

Phoenix has run off nine wins in their last eleven games.  Shaq is settling in and they seem to have figured out how to play with him on the court.  Shaq is not clogging up athe middle as Amare is still getting plenty of looks, they are running very well and they have captured a little bit of that three point magic that made them such a devastating team to face.

Over their previous eleven games they have made 84 threes including consecutive games with 12, eleven, ten and 15.  They cooled off a little over their recent four game road trip where they lost a heartbreaker to Detroit, were blown out by Boston and then beat the hot Sixers and the surging/floundering Nets.  (Yes I said surging and floundering.)  Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa and to a lesser extent Gordan Giricek have lead the way.

The Nuggets have always struggled to guard the Suns transition game always giving up a hoard of threes.  They do not seem to understand that when a couple of guys are spotting up on the perimeter they do not need all four or five guys in the lane hoping to stop Nash.  

One issue that was not resolved with the insertion of Shaq into the lineup is the propensity for Amare to get into foul trouble.  It will be important for Denver to move without the ball and be unselfish as they were against Golden State.  If Amare is caught out of position he will try to make the spectacular play to get a block and that gets him in trouble.  With the Nuggets cutting and passing like the can, Amare will find himself in the position to try to make the big block and hopefully foul trouble will follow.

The Nuggets have a lot of momentum right now and are playing with a lot of emotion.  Hopefully they can avoid coming out flat after big wins against Dallas and the Warriors.  

The bad news is even during this current hot streak, the Nuggets have not proven that they can win a game on the road against a good team.  Their last road win that could be considered against a good team was back in early February against Cleveland.  The last time Denver beat a western conference playoff team on the road was December 28 at Golden State and technically they are not even in the playoffs right now.

Maybe the Nuggets can afford to lose a game here or there and this one looks like a game where a loss can be forgiven, but at some point they need to beat a high quality team on the road to prove to us, and maybe even themselves, that they can make some noise in the playoffs.

For some great Suns realted blogging head on over to Bright Side of the Sun.

Leave your thoughts and comments on the game below and hopefully we can watch the Nuggets keep this playoff train rolling.

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