The particulars ...
Denver: 8-5 (2-3 on the road)
Streak: Lost 1
Milwaukee: 4-8 (4-0 at home)
Streak: Lost 2
Denver: Rudy Fernandez (right Achilles strain) is out. DeMarre Carroll (left hamstring strain) no timetable for return.
Milwaukee: Mike Dunleavy (groin) out indefinitely. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (sore knee) and Beno Udrih (sore shoulder) are day to day.
Television: Altitude TV
Season Series: 1-0, Nuggets.
Opposition's Take: Brew Hoop
Dear Coach George Karl,
Please, take a moment to look around. You recognize this place? It was your old stomping grounds for about five seasons at the turn of the century. A place where you coached the likes of Ray Allen and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson. You remember how that ended, right? Screaming matches and the eventual trade of your star player and a rapid descent into mediocrity. You have changed for the better since then.
Your time in Denver has been more up than down. Four straight 50 win seasons is something that has not ever been seen in these parts, and that is something you should be proud of. While I'm sure you are breathing a large sigh of relief at the prospect of not coaching any "stars" with egos, there is a very minor problem brewing (at the moment.) I believe this issue should be corrected soon in order for this team model to continue. It is imperative that you fix your rotations - and do it fast - before the team gets run over by a league that understands you like small lineups.
I'm not against you George and I don't relish being critical of you. In fact, I've played it right down the middle. Certainly you deserve a lot of credit for the way the team was held together last season amidst the Carmelo Anthony trade drama. The way the team played down the stretch, post-trade, is also very much attributable to you. However, a penchant to play "mad scientist" (coupled with the "Evil" George Karl goatee) has shown an itchy trigger finger at times, as well as a perplexing desire to play small lineups when you have over 14-feet of center at your disposal.
For me, it started with Al Harrington (who has played great this season) playing routinely out of position. He's often left guarding players who are bigger, stronger, and quicker than he. The last game against the Utah Jazz (Jan. 15) we had Big Al and Danilo Gallinari both playing out of position against players who were stronger and quicker than they are (Al on Al Jefferson and Gallo on Paul Milsap). This worked for the Nuggets the first time against the Bucks as Harrington guarded Andrew Bogut successfully. Yet, each subsequent time the results have been less satisfactory.
Before you say it George, YES, I do understand the ebb and flow of games. You like to have consistent lineups. Yet, in the last game you had Gallo sitting for what amounted to be the entire third quarter while the Nuggets struggled offensively. And as the team missed free throw after free throw in that third period, there sat the person who draws the most fouls and who hits the highest free throw percentage ... it made no sense.
Yet, what really confuses me is the way Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov have been used, sparingly, in lieu of small lineups that get slowed down and then out-rebounded. Not only that: you stuck with the small lineup for far longer than you should have, for what I can only assume is the sake of "rotation integrity" or something. I suppose that consistency is best in most situations; yet there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge the flow of the game and to exploit the Nuggets' depth. This will be essential going forward as these games get more compressed and the players grow more-and-more tired.
These are minor complaints and in the grand scheme of things I hope these issues iron themselves out. Coach, I'm rooting for you to figure this out. This new era of Nuggets basketball is unlike any we have seen in recent memory. Let's hope this continues with success with you as the coach. As fans and writers we long to see our team depth exploited at some point. I hope that time is about to come.
Let's get this resolved tonight, in Milwaukee.
Nuggets of Wisdom
-The Nuggets learned yesterday that Rudy Fernandez will be out for awhile after he re-aggravated his sore Achilles tendon. This will leave the Nuggets without one of their key bench playmakers. Hopefully this means more minutes for Corey Brewer.
-The Bucks are without Mike Dunleavy and are coming off a loss, on the road, to the Philadelphia 76ers last night (94-82), Jan. 16th. However, the Bucks are undefeated at home (4-0) and have the always dangerous chucker Stephen Jackson on the team, as well as Andrew Bogut - who is coming back after a concussion. Milwaukee is a solid team, and they are coached by one of my least favorite coaches in the world in Scott Skiles. However, much like the last game in Denver, expect a hard fought defensive battle.
-I hope that K2 get's some run, and maybe Chris Andersen will get off the schneid and start playing like he did circa 2009, otherwise Birdman is rapidly becoming an amnesty candidate next season. Gallo needs to improve his efficiency and his lay-up abillity, and Andre Miller needs to get over not starting. This is becoming a distraction with Miller and quite frankly it's hurting the team. Ty Lawson had a bad game against Utah, and the Nuggets couldn't afford to have Andre pout, which it seems he did.
Oh, and since I've made some glaring mistake in each of the last two previews on players and they resulted in Nuggets wins ... ummmmm, lets say that Andrew Bogut is a point guard? How about that?
Start of a five game road trip. Hopefully the Nuggets get off to a good start.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78