As the Nuggets cast aside the cold yet rewarding month of January, it's time to look ahead to the shortest month of the year. Supposedly February is the month of love, and the birth month of two of our presidents.
Nah, it's the month of difficult NBA scheduling. With musical help from Queen ...
Since I'm still suffering from "what the hell happened last night" syndrome, and have resisted the urge to write a scathing missive about George Karl. I have decided to make this preview of February both brief and entertaining. I've broken down the schedule into three separate segments. Each segment has a song by Queen accompanying it to act as the "theme" of said schedule portion. Lets get started ...
Dead on Time
In what has to be the worst back-to-back-to-back set in the entire NBA this season, the Nuggets will play the Los Angeles Clippers (12-6) in LA on Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers (13-9) at home in Denver, and then the Portland Trail Blazers (12-9) at the Rose Garden in Portland. An unbelievable set of three games that will test both the mental and physical acuity of these Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets may be given a small reprieve however. Each game will either start at 8:00 or 8:30 pm MDT. This is small consolation however, as the Nuggets must scale the western United States in three days. Besides the obvious traveling woes, the Nuggets will be facing three good teams (it's arguable about the Lakers, however) and each team poses a completely different challenge for the Nuggets. Depth George Karl. Use your depth otherwise the Nuggets will be too tired. Dead tired.
The Nuggets, fortunately, have played each of these teams before. The familiarity should be a good thing as they try to tackle each. The one I'm wanting the Nuggets to win the most is the first one against the Clippers. Considering they won on a well-timed flop by Chauncey Billups and questionable lineups by the Nuggets at the end, I'd like to prove that a fully healthy Nuggets team can take down the Clip Joint. The Lakers can't seem to win on the road which helps, and the Nuggets will be very very fortunate if they can beat the Blazers at the Rose Garden on the third night. That is the least likely victory of the set.
Queen - Dead on time (via RedSpecial1963)
Another one Bites the Dust
The "middle" of the February portion of the Nuggets schedule looks to be by far the "easiest" part. This is mostly due to the Nuggets having four of these five games at home. During this stretch the Nuggets will play the Houston Rockets (12-9), the Dallas Mavericks (14-8), the Golden State Warriors (7-12) and the Phoenix Suns (7-13) at home. A quick visit to Indiana to face the Pacers (14-6) is sprinkled in there. Looking at it now, it looks like the Mavs at home and the Pacers on the road will be the toughest matchups. I'd normally say Houston, but I think the Nuggets can take them at home (even though Kyle Lowry is still the most irritating player in the NBA).
While the Nuggets match up VERY well with the Mavs, the defending champions have been playing a lot better as of late now that Dirk Nowitzki seems to have got himself in shape. The Pacers are a team that is built much like the Nuggets, without a "superstar". Yet they are winning games at a good clip, almost like a mirror reflection. They are led by sharpshooting Danny Granger. I'm looking forward to this particular game more than any in this particular section of games.
Nuggets have to bring the funk in these games. Win each one and not fool around. Another one bites the dust indeed.
Queen - 'Another One Bites the Dust' (via queenofficial)
Stone Cold Crazy
Check out this murderer's row, on the road and at home, during the final and, and most difficult part of February. Three games on the road right off the bat to Dallas, at Memphis to face the Grizzlies (whom the Nuggets just lost to) and the HUGE Oklahoma City Thunder (16-4) game. Uhg! That three game road test will be the most difficult stretch the Nuggets have faced all year. Dallas is resurgent with an in-shape Dirk is a dangerous Dirk. Memphis just beat Denver short handed and on the second night of their back to back. OKC is - well - so far the best team in the conference. With Kevin Durant (don't call me Reggie Miller), Russel Westbrook and James Harden the Thunder have put together their own little big three. I'm curious to see how the Nuggets come out of this stretch.
After a brief stop at home to play the surprising and resurgent Minnesota Timberwolves (10-11) featuring Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love - the Nuggets go back on the road to face the Clippers for the third time in a month. Hopefully by this point the Nuggets will have been able to learn to stay away from Chauncey Billups, lest he flop again. The Nuggets end the month with home games against the San Antonio Spurs (13-9) and the Blazers. The Spurs are always tough on the Nuggets, and the Blazers are a good team. Stone Cold Crazy ya'll.
QUEEN: Stone Cold Crazy (via rdc65)
In total this month's worth of games is a very difficult period for the Nuggets. This will test their resolve against good and occasionally great opponents with seven road games and eight home games, 15 games in all. All but three games against teams with winning records, at the time of this writing. Every road opponent the Nuggets face has a winning record and at least 12 wins at the moment. This shortest month of the year will tell us more about this current team than anything they have faced so far.
Going to be tough ...
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78