So much for cruising through this 9-game home stand. After barely defeating the Sacramento Kings, the Nuggets lose to the Cavaliers, beat the New Orleans Hornets, then lose again to the Memphis Grizzlies. Once a bastion of the Rockies and refuge of a traditionally road-weary team, the Pepsi Center has been as effective as the Maginot Line for the Denver Nuggets this season.
Denver: 23-19 (12-10 at home)
Streak: Lost 1
Atlanta: 24-17 (12-11 on the road)
Streak: Won 1
Denver: Ty Lawson (sprained right foot) is day-to-day. Rudy Fernandez (lower back strain) is questionable. Timofey Mozgov (left ankle sprain) is day-to-day. Kosta Koufos (knee tendinitis) is day-to-day.
Atlanta: Willie Green (injured back) is questionable. Jason Collins (sprained left elbow) is questionable. Al Horford (torn left pectoral) is out.
Season Series: 0-0
Opposition's Take: Peachtree Hoops
Here's a short list of things more consistent than this year's Denver Nuggets at home:
- A casino house edge.
- Carmelo Anthony shooting below 50% on 10 or more attempts from the field.
- Springtime weather in Colorado.
Frankly, I don't know what to expect out of this Nuggets team on a nightly basis anymore. The energy of this team is all over the place. On Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies wore themselves out in a losing effort against the Phoenix Suns, yet looked in near-total control of the game on a back-to-back against the rested Nuggets on Sunday. Denver committed 24 turnovers and that once again wrecked any cohesion on the offensive side of the ball, with Lawson and Miller combining for 12 turnovers (six each). These Nuggets have played in a total haze lately. Ill-advised passes and terrible offensive flow have lead to the Nuggets recording 15 or more turnovers in three of their last four games.
Speaking of terrible offensive flow, the Nuggets' half-court offense makes me want to do bad things to myself right now. Currently, the plan seems to be: dribble the ball across half court, slip 346 screens - each possession, I counted - then pass the ball to Danilo Gallinari/Arron Afflalo/Al Harrington with an expression that conveys, "I don't know, you do something," followed by a contested 18-24 foot jumper. Or, Nene will get the ball in the low post against say an Earl Boykins, and then pass the ball out to Corey Brewer for a long jumper. That offensive set I may have recalled from a fever dream induced from watching the last possession of Sunday's game against the Grizzlies, though one can never be too sure. I have no idea what the Nuggets need to do to get their offensive mojo back, but clearly Dr. Evil has sequestered it away somewhere on a moon base.
The latest team to come-a-knocking at the doors of The Can are the perpetually underachieving Atlanta Hawks, who the Nuggets face tomorrow night (March 13th). Stuck in the ourobouros of mediocrity that is being too good for a "generational" draft pick but too bad to make much of a run in the playoffs, the Hawks decided to double down on their love of a 5th-8th seed in the Eastern Conference and signed Joe Johnson to a 6-year $119 million dollar contract in 2010. We might never know the contents of the drug cocktail the Atlanta front office was on when they offered that contract to Johnson, but clearly it was some good stuff to lock up a player for six years who is shooting just 42% from the field (34% from three) and scoring just 17 points - on 15 shots. Johnson is a volume scorer and has a propensity to think he's Kobe Bryant, which may be the Nuggets' biggest advantage in this matchup.
The Atlanta Hawks also feature the sprightly Jeff Teague and the high flying (I had to get one bird-related pun in) Josh Smith. Teague, a third-year point guard, is capable of igniting the Hawks in transition, where, much like the Nuggets, they are most effective. Ty Lawson will have hands full keeping Teague's speed in check and must do a better job securing the ball. Nene - theoretically - should be able to abuse Zaza Pachulia in the post, as an Atlanta team less Al Horford has a very thin frontcourt.
Mostly, I just want to see the Nuggets get back to what they do best - running, gunning, and passing the ball. Slashing, not standing, in the half court. Taking fewer than 15 three pointers. And winning at home.
Nuggets of Note:
- Who will hit their head on the backboard first, Kenneth Faried or Josh Smith?
- Should we all chip in and buy Andre Miller some of these?
- When will we see Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov return to the lineup? Is it time to start wondering whether or not Koufos' "knee tendinitis" is worse than the Nuggets are letting on?
Homestand Watch: 2-2 (yuck)