Difficult close to 2013 gives road victories even greater importance

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

After another home loss, the Nuggets have now fallen more in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center than they did all of last season. With home court no longer providing the same boost, the Nuggets must win on the road to fight for a playoff spot.

The 38-3 home dominance last year for the Nuggets was an all-time franchise record. It stands to reason that after a tumultuous offseason, the Nuggets were not likely to match a similar effort again. With their 4th home loss of the season on Tuesday night against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the shine of that formerly incredible home court advantage has dulled. While the Nuggets will likely still have an excellent home record at the conclusion of the season, it serves to emphasize that the Nuggets must be better on the road if they hope to make the playoffs in a stacked Western conference.

For the most part, the Nuggets have played quite well on the road this season, sporting the 5th best road record in the conference at 7-6. It's been refreshing to see head coach Brian Shaw place an increased emphasis on every game played on the road, and other than a few disappointing losses at the Boston Celtics and Thunder (both for different reasons), the effort from the team has remained strong. With their longest road trip of the season out of the way, the Nuggets will still be tested by a four game away trip from the Pepsi Center in February, and a 5 game roadie in March.

Until then, the Nuggets must continue to secure road victories against beatable teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies, both teams they'll play in their houses before the calendar turns. After the dismantling a superior Thunder team just performed on the Nuggets at home, it makes upcoming dates with the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat seem a lot more challenging for this young squad still missing key contributions from Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee.

The Nuggets will play tomorrow night against a surprisingly good Phoenix Suns team featuring Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and the newly-acquired Emeka Okafor at 7:00 PM MST. They will then play at "Flop City" against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday before returning home to face the Golden State Warriors and the return of the Mole on Monday.

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