No need to front. Just remember what you did the last game, and repeat it Nuggets. Dribble penetration, lobs, mid-range jumpers. All of that needs to be done again, and maybe with additional intensity in front of the home crowd.
Play like there's no tomorrow ...
Your Denver Nuggets came out with flying intensity and purpose against the Lakers on Tuesday. More focus than this young team has ever displayed on such a big stage. Could some of that intensity and focus be aided by Andrew Bynum's rather careless and braindead statements prior to Game 5, saying "closeout games are easy." It is just dumb to give a young team like the Nuggets fodder to play harder when they are younger and deeper than you.
Regardless of motivation, this Nuggets team impressed everyone who went to Stiffs Night Out at Jakes Food and Spirits on Tuesday, including Sandy Clough who was quite entertaining to watch the basketball game with. Everyone there was commenting on how the Nuggets seemed to be playing the way they should've played the first two games in Los Angeles. Regardless, every Nuggets fan should be encouraged.
There is a very good reason JaVale McGee is not starting. It's very simple actually ... and that reason is Andre Miller. It started to dawn on the coaching staff that Dre is that veteran leadership that JaVale needed, plus, lets face it Ty Lawson just struggles on the lob passes. Dre excels in them (truth!). JaVale has benefited from the symbiotic relationship he can get from a veteran point guard who knows where to get him the ball. Thus he plays harder and goes for every rebound. McGee so thoroughly outplayed his counterpart Andrew Bynum, that the LA media went in full "Drew is a knucklehead" mode. Coming off his comments before the game, can't say as you'd blame them.
Miller has found his footing when playing in big games. Apparently he gave an impassioned pregame speech to the Nuggets prior to Game 5. As big as JaVale came up, Dre was the catalyst for almost everything that flowed in the second half. In this way, he was able to do something that Ty couldn't ... provide a steady hand and a post-up ability that is second to none among guards. Seriously, how many guards have the post-game ability that Dre possesses? Need more of that from him tonight.
So far Lawson has played one and a half good games out of the five that have been played. I'm not sure whether I should credit the Lakers defense or Ty's passive play. It is most likely both, but Ty needs to continue to press the issue. As much as Dre was great in the last game, Ty needs to take the initiative and just soldier through and play aggressive. Arron Afflalo played a bit better in Game 5. While his shooting percentage was still bad, his confidence seemed to lift a bit. Danilo Gallinari had a hot start to the first three quarters with 16 points. Then tapered off. Gallo needs to start hitting these open three's. He's a better shooter than that, and quite frankly that's been the only disappointing part of his game so far in the playoffs. He hits a greater percentage of those three's and he would be scoring 25 a game and the Nuggets maybe are up 3-2 instead of being down 3-2.
George Karl has made adjustments in the series. Appropriate adjustments at that. He MUST be credited with that. After the first game debacle, Bynum has essentially been marginalized and the Nuggets have been "in" every game. Putting Timofey Mozgov in to the starting lineup (in a Dahntay Jones-esque role) has actually helped the Nuggets beat up on Bynum and allowed Kenneth Faried (who has improved with each playoff game) to play more aggressive defense on Pau Gasol (who was completely non-existent in Game 5). The move that left people scratching their heads was leaving Al Harrington the entire duration of the the fourth quarter ... he of the one good leg and broken nose.
I re-watched Game 5 last night. In actuality, Harrington played very good defense on Pau Gasol. While he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with his shot, he did put in "work" on the defensive end. To the point where Karl believed that leaving him in there was the better choice. We can all debate the merits of keeping Al in there, and both sides would have valid points. The reason we all arent screaming about it and calling for George Karl's job is because the Nuggets built up a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter and forced Kobe Bryant in to (a nearly successful) hero mode. Thank god the Nuggets won eh?
All in all, GO NUGGETS! You have the template, now follow it! JaVale's long arms be praised!