When healthy, this Nuggets team has shown that it can hang with the best in the league. Remember the dismantling of the Heat? Remember the awesome road wins at Philly and at NY? Remember the crushing of the Clippers and how great the hard foul Moz gave to Griffin was? THAT is this Nuggets team.
Also, thank god it's almost the All Star Break
We are currently missing our three best players due to injuries. I would probably say Wilson is perhaps a step behind Gallo, but still a very solid player. Nene, Ty, and Gallo have not played with the resurgent AAA (who is finally starting to come around and is playing awesome). The rookies have all shown that they can make solid contributions to the lineup NOW. Faried is becoming a double-double machine. J-HAM can become the new JR to provide scoring punch off the bench.
With the team constructed the way it is, when healthy, they can play with anybody. Hell, without our arguably 3 best players we should have beat LAC and it seems like every single loss has been close. As discouraging as it has been to watch the Nuggets over this stretch, I see nothing but good things ahead after the ASG. Myself and others have pointed out that the schedule gets dramatically easier in March and April with fewer B2B's and finally getting to feast on the dredges of the Leastern Conference.
Which leads us to the playoffs (and anybody thinking that we will not make the playoffs is insane) and the reason why we need to sign Wilson Chandler. The Western Conference Playoffs will be going through OKC this year, like it or not. Chances are, we are going to end up with a 5-8 seed unless we can string together a wicked run post ASG. The top 4 teams, in my estimation, are going to be OKC, SA, LAC/LAL, and probably Dallas. Presumably, we would end up getting the 5-6 seed and play one of the LA teams or Dallas. Personally, I would prefer one of the LA teams or even OKC to SA or Dallas.
When healthy, we match up very well against both LA teams. We have bigs to throw at Bynum. We have Nene to throw at Gasol and Al proved to be a very tough matchup for him as well. We will have AAA, Gallo, and Wilson to guard Kobe. Having Ty in the game yesterday would have given us a victory IMO. SF is LAC's biggest hole besides depth and with the signing of Wilson, it will probably be our strongest. I would predict winning in 5 or 6 games in these two series, regardless of who has home court.
Now onto OKC. We saw a few days ago that even down Nene and Gallo, that we could hang with them and make Durant, Westbrick and Ibaka have career nights to beat us. Of course, our downfall was crunch time, but three of the 5 players who should have been in at crunch time were not able to play.
A lineup of Ty, AAA, Chandler, Gallo, and Nene would match up extremely well against OKC. They would have Wussel, Harden, Durant, Ibaka and either Cook/Perkins. And this is why Wilson is so important.
If Perkins is in the game:
Harden v Ty
AAA v Westbrick
Gallo v Durant
Chandler v Ibaka
Nene v Perkins.
On offense, there is an instant advantage to be exploited: Chandler v Ibaka. Ibaka has eaten our dribble drive alive with his blocks. But with him on Chandler and Chandler drawing him out of the paint to the wings, it will be a lot harder for him to block all of our drives. This opens up our offense immensely and allows Ty to do the thing that he does the best (drive) without fear of constantly being blocked. While they will prove to be as difficult as ever on offense, their need to have Perkins guard Nene clutters the Lane and limits their spacing/driving capabilities something that crushed us in the last game.
If Cook is in the game:
Ty vs. Cook
Chandler vs Westbrook
Durant vs Gallo
AAA vs Harden
Nene vs Ibaka.
Once again, advantages on offense. No way in hell Ibaka can contain Nene or leave him to be weak side help. Also, Chandler/AAA over Cook/Harden is a fantastic matchup for us. While this does allow for Ibaka to clog the paint, he does so at the risk of leaving Nene which I am fairly positive he will have a difficult time doing. On Defense, unfortunately, this spaces the floor very well and allows for Westbrook and Durant to drive.
And let's add a grain of salt to Durant's 51 the other night. There was nobody on the Nuggets who made him work defensively. Gallo and Chandler will make him work hard on the defensive end like Brewer and anyone else did not.
So I say, bring on OKC and please for the love of all that is holy, GK please fix your rotations