Nuggets must give better all-around effort against fundamentally sound Spurs

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

An alarming 0-2 start has Nuggets nation reeling. The transition from George Karl to Brian Shaw has not come easily. With the Nuggets still plagued by injuries to key starters, can the they find a way to scrap out a win against the Spurs?

Game 3: 2013-2014 NBA Season
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2-1 (1-1 road)
Series 0-0
0-2 (0-1 home)
November 5th 2013
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
7:00 PM MT
Altitude TV / 950 AM
Starters
Tony Parker PG Ty Lawson
Danny Green SG Randy Foye
Kawhi Leonard SF Jordan Hamilton
Tim Duncan PF Kenneth Faried
Tiago Splitter C JaVale McGee
Notes
Pounding the Rock Blogs You're here!
None Injuries Wilson Chandler (hamstring) is questionable, Anthony Randolph (ankle) is questionable, Kenneth Faried (bruised back) is questionable, Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out, good offense (execution) is questionable
Spurs hold an all-time 101-64 record over the Nuggets Stat Nuggets look to avoid consecutive 0-3 starts

On the morning of October 30th, 2013, Ty Lawson groggily awakened and discovered his Lamborghini Murcielago of an offense transformed into a Canyonero.

Despite being in full possession of his own faculties, Lawson finds his team hideously mutated into some form of unmentionable vermin. Lacking the frenetic, run-run-run pace of last season, Lawson's Nuggets instead seem themselves more comfortable settling under the 100-point couch.

Of no concern is the why of this change into something nearly unrecognizable, as it is immaterial; the Nuggets cannot go back to the way they were. The story of this season so far is simply the absurdity of the change itself, and how the Nuggets as constructed will deal with it going forward.

Gone is the driving desire to throw the ball downcourt as quickly as possible, to find outlet passes that look more like bombs to wideouts in the NFL than basketball passes. In its place is a coldly calculative, half-court haridan, seemingly designed to frustrate fans expecting the high-flying Nuggets of the last decade. The Nuggets are struggling to find themselves and how all their pieces work together in this new phase of existence. Brian Shaw, concerned as Grete, is trying to determine what best will aid the fledgling existence of the new, ugly creature that is the 2013 Denver Nuggets. He will do it again tonight without Danilo Gallinari, and likely without Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph.

There have been Satori of the Nuggets new existence. At times in the preseason and in flashes during the last 2 games, they have been able to stifle offenses, and the athleticism of their frontcourt creates a multitude of opportunities on the glass. Yet we have not seen a complete game from this team, in which they execute on both ends of the court to create a true picture of this new, indeterminate beast. Tonight I expect the Nuggets to compete hard on the strengths of Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson, given that perhaps the best way to deal with the shambling abomination of the Spurs is with physicality and athleticism. I expect JaVale McGee to put up a decent game against Tiago Splitter but it's just as likely that he gets suckered into dumb fouls and/or winded by the 3rd quarter. Shaw's kept a short leash on JaVale so far - but his length could be critical in defending Tim Duncan.

Even with the nagging injury curse still haunting the Nuggets, the San Antonio Spurs should be an excellent test for this young team. As Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich's phylactery (or horcrux) has not yet been located and destroyed, their unholy ability to remain competitive persists despite the relative decomposition of their big three. Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan have shown signs of rot, but can still beat you to death with their stumps if they need to. Like some sort of Dorian Gray, Tony Parker seems somehow immune to the effects of aging, and is as quick and crafty as ever.

From what I have seen so far, I do not expect the Nuggets to win this game. The Spurs are simply one of the most well-coached, fundamentally sound, consistent teams of the last 20 years, marching in phalanx-like lockstep to a playoff berth season in and out. Their identity is firm and consistent as a boring team, so boring at times that they lull you to sleep and then smother you with a soft down pillow of corner threes and Tim Duncan bankshots, to say nothing of the thousand cuts administered by the lime-laced rusty knife that is Manu Ginobili. They will frustrate the Nuggets this season like they did in the early Carmelo Anthony years, where the Nuggets were still determining how they would utilize Karl's focus on speed and fast play with their roster, and the Spurs simply showed up and rolled the Nuggets with few exceptions.

The Nuggets will continue their metamorphosis, to find their new identity as a half court team, and determine if they're simply going to roll over and die or become a creature of worth with the current roster. It will be a painful process, to be sure, but a necessary one.

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