Well, it's officially NBA season for the casual fan. How do I know this? Because all of my casual NBA fan buddies have been texting, calling, and asking me in person about these 2012-13 Denver Nuggets and if they really have a chance once April rolls around.
Among my friends, I'm obviously the "go to" nerd to ask about the Nuggets and it's not because I'm a hoops expert. My friends and family know that I haven't missed many Nuggets games since 2009 - when I took over SB Nation's Pickaxe and Roll - I guess that would make me an expert of sorts, but I feel like I've learned more about the game of basketball this season than any previous one.
You know when you start a job and everything seems sort of foreign and then one day you realize that you could do your job in your sleep? Well, I feel like with basketball that the game has slowed down for me and I've taken notice of so many other things going on during the game. I've met a lot of new people this year and talking hoops with them has opened my eyes quite a bit. But I also learn a ton by talking with you all and reading the comment sections on Denver Stiffs.
Getting back to the topic at hand - do these Nuggets really have a chance this season?
It's so difficult not to get sucked into these Nuggets teams. I can recall thinking that I've wanted a few of these teams to "never change" and that "I want to see everyone come back". And then I talk myself into a million scenarios where I can envision the team making it to the NBA Finals.
Well, I've been sucked in once again. Can I see this team making it to the NBA Finals? Of course I can! We envision all these scenarios where Denver gets the favorable match-up and things break right in the playoffs and boom - the Nuggets are in the Finals! And then the playoffs happen and things typically go the way the seedings indicate they should and our dreams are met with cold reality.
Don't believe me? Let's examine how the NBA playoffs have unfolded for the Nuggets under George Karl.
|Nugs Record||Opponent||Opp. Record||How opp. Finished||Who beat opp.|
|2005-06||44-38||Clippers||47-35||Lost semis||54-28 Suns|
|2007-08||50-32||Lakers||57-25||Lost Finals||66-16 Celtics|
|2008-09||54-28||Hornets||49-33||Lost first to Nugs||--|
|Mavericks||50-32||Lost semis to Nugs||--|
|2009-10||53-29||Jazz||53-29||Lost semis||57-25 Clippers|
|2010-11||50-32||Thunder||55-27||Lost WCF||57-25 Mavs|
|2011-12||38-28||Lakers||41-25||Lost semis||47-19 Thunder|
One giant takeaway from the above chart? THERE IS NOT ONE SINGLE UPSET AMONG ANY OF THOSE MATCH-UPS! Not one. The Nuggets have not upset any teams and the teams that defeated the Nuggets did not go on to upset any teams in the playoffs either. The only one you could argue would be the Nuggets loss to the Jazz in 2009-10 because Denver won the season season 3-1 against Utah, but they both finished 53-29 (toss up to me).
During Karl's nine trips to the post-season with Denver, his teams have lost to three NBA champions in the Spurs (twice) and Lakers and another Lakers team that lost in the Finals. So, 50% of the time the Nuggets have been defeated in the post-season, that team has gone on to play for the title and won 3-4 of those series.
As crazy as post-seasons have been and as crazy as some upsets have been, you can see that they are a rare thing in the NBA. This is why it is imperative for Denver to climb as high as they can during the season. Will their playoff seed be the indicator for how far this team can go? It sure is hard to make a case against it with eight seasons of history to back it up.
I am crazy about this team's potential and love watching the progress they are making as a unit. I want to believe that an upset can happen and that the Nuggets will be on the positive side of that result.
Am I crazy too?
Hitting up the links:
J.J. Redick says the Magic have told him they are not shopping him - Matt Moore, CBS Sports.com
Um, pretty self explanatory. Sorry Nuggets fans. Wait, front office executives can fib? There is still hope for some in Nuggets Nation.
Like Magic - Jonathan Abrams, Grantland.com
An incredible piece on Shaun Livingston. His bounce back from injury and so much more. A must read for NBA heads.
Podcast: B.S. Report: Ric Bucher and Marc Stein - Bill Simmons, B.S. Report
An awesome podcast - these three are fun to listen to and really get into some good NBA chatter.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter