Between tonight's 28-point victory at the Izod Center and last season's 25-point win over the Nets at Pepsi Center, I'd say the Nuggets have properly avenged last February's debacle in New Jersey.
The Nets are one of the NBA's worst teams with All-Star point guard Devin Harris in the lineup. Without Harris (as they were forced to play tonight), they're a slight step above an NBDL team. For the Nuggets to win by 28 in spite of Carmelo Anthony having a horrid shooting night, it tells us that our Nuggets are either this good or the Nets are this bad. It's probably a bit of both.
In my recap of the Nuggets opening night win over the Jazz, I mentioned how the NBA will be made up of "haves" and "have nots" this season. But it's broader than that. The Nets - like their losing predecessors in Indiana last night - aren't just bad, but they're broke and cheap like nine or so other struggling franchises. Just another casualty of a worldwide financial crisis and poor (literally and figuratively) ownership. Take Bobby Simmons amazingly high $10.5 million contract off their books and the Nets entire roster combined would cost the same as having Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups and Nene.
What this game got me thinking tonight is that we might see one of the greatest disparities in recent memory between the records of the good teams with stable ownership (the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Cavaliers, Spurs, Nuggets...thank you thank you Stan Kroenke) and these shoddy outfits in New Jersey, Indiana, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Charlotte and so on. In other words, if you thought the Nuggets had an easy time last season feasting on sub-.500 teams, this season could be even easier.
Or...another thought...are the Nuggets just this good? Do the additions of Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo in particular, combined with the substantial upgrade in play by Carmelo Anthony, make the Nuggets even better than last season in spite of the dire financial situation affecting 30% of their opposition? Considering that the Nuggets are 5-0 with two pairs of back-to-back wins under their belts already and J.R. Smith hasn't even stepped onto the floor yet, it's fair to ask, wonder and dream about what could come of all this. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves until the Nuggets start racking up road wins like this against real NBA teams.
(Speaking of Afflalo, he's clearly getting more comfortable in the Nuggets "system" and I'm perplexed as to why he's not starting yet. Anthony Carter hasn't hurt us through five games, but I'd argue that he hasn't helped much either. With Afflalo kicking off games, at least we'd be playing five-on-five on the defensive end.)
Unlike last season when the Nuggets stepped onto the Izod Center floor and forgot to play basketball altogether, they handled tonight's game (second half anyway) like the pro's they're supposed to be night in and night out.
And we're all better off for it.
Photo courtesy of AP: Mel Evans