Want to know how to beat the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets?
Pretend it's a playoff game by slowing the game down and playing half court.
I don't think anyone (sane) truly expected the 2012-13 Nuggets to thrive in the post-season. But we (the fans, the punditry, and so on) expected our team of could-be-All-Stars to - at the very least - thrive during the regular season. After all, we have the depth, the youth and the athletes to run opponents off the floor, right?
But the problem is that the Nuggets aren't running at all. And if they continue to allow their opponents to dictate the pace in the games in which they play, there won't be a post-season for them to disappoint us in.
Okay, that might be too harsh and before ranting on why our Nuggets are failing to win games, we must note that their early season schedule was no walk in the park: three straight road games to open the season, two games against NBA Champion Miami and having to play five games in seven nights ... all in their first 10 games. And tonight the Nuggets are walking into a death trap in Memphis - perhaps the NBA's best team, especially in a half court set.
Of the Nuggets' six losses, the two most disappointing to me were the at-Orlando loss and the recent home loss to the Heat. And while I suppose no one should ever expect their team to defeat the defending NBA Champions, the Heat were playing at Denver as the second of the national TV back-to-back, were visibly tired from the opening tip, and were missing All-Star shooting guard Dwyane Wade. And yet with the exception of an almost, sort of Nuggets comeback, the Heat trounced the Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Making matters worse, the Heat didn't need a superstar performance from LeBron James or Chris Bosh to beat the Nuggets, deferring instead to Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Norris Cole (who?!) to do the job for them.
And how exactly did the Wade-less, sub-par James Heat squad beat the Nuggets at Pepsi Center?
Again, because the Heat slowed the game down and forced the Nuggets into half court basketball. Just as the 76ers did on opening night and the Spurs did this past Saturday evening en route to a 126-100 drubbing of the Nuggets.
For the second season in a row, our Nuggets seem to get Stiffed when the game slows down and/or becomes a half court style of the play because it demands that the Nuggets do two things they don't do particularly well: make outside shots and defend three-pointers. Against the Nuggets, the Spurs made 16 three-pointers. Two nights after the Heat canned 13 versus Denver.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets have been ice cold from long range, making just 30% of their three-point attempts (tied for fourth worst in the NBA) even though they shoot more threes than half of the NBA. As HoopsWorld's Lang Greene points out in his "What's wrong with the Nuggets?" column:
Three Nuggets who average more than 10 shot attempts per contest are currently shooting below forty percent from the floor – Ty Lawson (38 percent), Corey Brewer (38 percent) and Danilo Gallinari (34 percent).
Which begs the obvious question: what the hell is Corey Brewer doing shooting more than 10 times per game?
Fair or not, this Nuggets squad was built to run and play open court basketball - we don't have consistent outside shooters and our big men don't know how to box out properly to win in a half court set. So whenever the Nuggets allow their opponent to dictate a game's pace, they're in trouble. Big trouble.
It's easier said than done, but if the Nuggets want to compete for the Northwest Division crown as head coach George Karl suggested their goal should be, they must dictate each game's tempo before allowing their opponents to do it first.
And then when the Nuggets make the playoffs, we can complain about how they struggle in a half court set.
On to the links ...
Nuggets get blown out at San Antonio - The Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman delivers the line of the year by writing: "Denver was still in the game during the entire national anthem and then the tip-off, but from there it was all over."
Denver Nuggets' Ty Lawson tries to rediscover shooting rhythm - The Denver Post
Adrian Dater on why Ty Lawson can't shoot straight.
In midst of road schedule, Nuggets embrace Moe System | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE DENVER NUGGETS
Aaron Lopez shares the Doug Moe system of getting a plus-1 for winning a road game and a minus-1 for losing a home game.
NBA Sunday: What’s Wrong With The Nuggets? | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
The Denver Nuggets entered the season thought to be Western Conference contenders, but would miss the playoffs if they started today, writes Lang Greene.