How taking the other team lightly bit the Nuggets, including the coaches

USA TODAY Sports

Midway through the second quarter I started involuntarily throwing bits of paper at my television screen. The feeling that this Nuggets team was half-efforting a playoff game was sweeping over me. It was later confirmed to be true.

There was going to be a game where a jump shooting team like the Golden State Warriors was going to get hot. Not entirely sure that "hot" was going to be 64% shooting for the whole game. Yes, you read that right -- 64% shooting on Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets, who were at home. There are two words that come to mind when I think about the results of last night's game: effort and unsustainable.

First, let me get this out of the way -- yes, the Nuggets do miss Danilo Gallinari. There was going to come a time when it would be unavoidable, and Tuesday night's game was an indication that Gallo's value to this Nuggets squad is pretty huge. Gallo is a matchup nightmare for the Warriors, and by himself he pretty much neutralized Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes due to his length during the regular season. Nuggets also miss his great floor spacing and ability to draw fouls. You can't remove such a large cog in the Nuggets engine and expect them to compensate easily. Tuesday night, it was made evident, that Gallo would have helped this team ... tremendously.

However, that is NO excuse for the horrendous "effort" the Nuggets put out on the floor from both the players and coaching aspect. The players looked lethargic, and the coaches looked panicked. All of these elements contributed mightily to the Warriors shooting a shocking 64% from the field. Let me just state here and now that the Warriors will NOT duplicate that shooting percentage again. That's not much of a prognostication, and everyone knows that it is completely unsustainable to shoot that way. Just saying though.

The Nuggets defensive "effort" can only be described as pedestrian. They didn't rotate and trap effectively. Kosta Koufos looks completely lost on the court, and that applies to Game 1 as well. Wilson Chandler seems to be doing fine on defense, but his offensive effort is timid. He is playing like Ty Lawson did the first couple months of the season. Kenneth Faried gets a pass because that was his first game in over a week, and he looked like he wasn't 100% anyway.

The team, for whatever reason, forgot everything they did in the first game and said "Hey, Steph Curry, you want that shot? How about WIIIIIIDE open?" Yeah, that a great way to close out on a great shooter. Warriors Coach Mark Jackson was probably pinching himself with his good fortune of having Nuggets players take his team so lightly coming in to game two. Yes, Golden State is not as good a team WITHOUT David Lee than they are with him. Somehow, however, the Nuggets players figured that they would take a casual walk in the park on Tuesday night, and it bit them ... big time.

However, as far as the coaches go, there were some troubling signs of overreacting to what Golden State was doing. It started in the first quarter, when the game was tied with five minutes left in the quarter, rookie Evan Fournier was pulled from the game for his second traveling call of the quarter. Never to return. It was an odd move. Yes, we all acknowledge that the high stakes of the playoffs leave no margin for error, but the reason you had Fournier in the starting lineup was for his floor spacing and ability to cover opposing guards. Once he was taken out, you had to over-rely on Andre Miller who, lets face it, is not exactly the Michael Jordan of defense. That left Miller and Corey Brewer covering Klay Thompson and yeah ... that's not good.

The rest of the evening Karl left in odd lineups with no shooters, which didn't help the defense but hurt the offense. It was clear Karl was fumbling around trying to find the right combination when, he likely hurt himself and his team quite deeply by never re-inserting Fournier until the game was out of reach. Even if Fournier wasn't going to get the benefit of the whistle, he was still a far superior defensive player than say, Miller. Position-ally speaking of course.

With all this being said, however, I'm more confident going in to Game 3 than I thought I would be. The Nuggets will be amped and ready to go. This notion that the Oracle Center crowd will somehow be the deciding factor in this series is likely a losers lament. Any NBA team will tell you that if you handle your business on the court, the crowd could be shooting off cannons and it won't affect the team. I'm not worried about that, and I doubt the Nuggets are as well.

The team will come out much more prepared for Game 3 and make the correct adjustments. No worries here, and if what I'm seeing around twitter and the blogs is correct, Warriors fans are suffering from the same overconfidence that Nuggets fans were suffering from before Game 2. It happens. This is a game of adjustments and I expect the Nuggets to make the correct ones. Those who have predicted the Nuggets' demise will be sadly mistaken I fear.

One thing I look for is Faried's return to the starting lineup, and Chandler returning to the bench. If this happens, hopefully this will spark Chandler into getting better match-ups. I also look to George Karl to do something about the center position. He hasn't announced what he intends to do with Koufos but we will see going forward. Those who are clamoring to see JaVale McGee in the starting lineup may be rewarded.

Adjust, effort, execute ... that's what the Nuggets need to do. Do those things and they will be successful.

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets

Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78

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