|Game 45: 2013-14 NBA Season|
|January 31st, 2014|
|Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
|7:00 PM MT|
|Altitude / 950 AM
|Kyle Lowry||PG||Randy Foye
|Terrence Ross||SG||Evan Fournier
|DeMar DeRozan||SF||Wilson Chandler
|Jonas Valanciunas||C||J.J. Hickson
|Raptors HQ||Blogs||Denver Stiffs|
|DeMar DeRozan (foot) is probable, Pattrick Patterson (nose) is questionable, Landry Fields (wrist) is out||Injuries|
|At 24-21 with the same home record as the Nuggets, the Raptors hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference.||Stat||With Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee and Ty Lawson out the Nuggets are down 3 starters from the 2012-2013 season.
Right now, the Denver Nuggets roster looks more like a stitched together corpse than an NBA roster.
Just when they're getting back Darrell Arthur from a long absence due to a groin injury, they lose Nate Robinson to a potentially serious knee injury. This after they are already down Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee and Andre Miller. The Nuggets technically don't even have a point guard available to play against the Raptors at this point. Even more disconcerting is the fact that the last time the Nuggets played (and beat) the Raptors in Toronto, it was largely on the back of Nate Rob's 23 points on 9-14 shooting (5-8 from 3) off the bench.
After Robinson went out with his injury against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, Brian Shaw was forced to split time at the point between Randy Foye and Evan Fournier. While both Foye and Fournier excelled - scoring 52 points and racking up 13 assists, 8 rebounds and 5 steals - both players are not natural points, and the Nuggets offense suffered. With the game close down the stretch, the Nuggets ultimately succumbed as the Bobcats - the 20-27 Bobcats - tightened up their defense and locked them up on their home court, as no Nuggets player could make a play or get a stop. While now is certainly the opportunity for Evan Fournier to finally show that he is absolutely worthy of additional playing time going forward, I'm not sure I wanted his revelation to come under such drastic circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Raptors have continued to roll along in the Eastern Conference following the trade of Rudy Gay, and currently hold the 3rd seed over the Atlanta Hawks. Since Gay's trade, the Raptors have relied heavily on the contributions of Eastern Conference All-Star DeMar DeRozan at the small forward position, where he has posted an impressive 21.8 points per game on 43% shooting. Backing up DeRozan is the sprightly Kyle Lowry at the point, one of the only guards in the NBA that I would say could stick with Ty Lawson. Lowry's speed and finishing ability has always impressed me, and he would be a tough cover for this team even at full strength. Jonas Valanciunas is having a strong season as he continues to develop, and it seems Masai Ujiri has positioned the Raptors well going into the future.
Having no true point to run the offense hurts a team that still thrives largely off a gameplan of pushing the tempo and getting easy looks before the defense has time to get set. They'll need another big game from Fournier and Foye to stay competitive with a nearly-full strength Raptors squad. I'm hopeful that J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried won't completely embarrass themselves against a more than competent Raptors frontcourt, and that perhaps Brian Shaw will finally see that it's finally time for Timofey Mozgov to make the jump to the starting lineup. Perhaps we'll see some additional development from Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller tonight.
Make no mistake about it, this is going to be some brutal basketball for a while as the Nuggets search for answers in their young players, asked to take over in a transition year with many stabilizing veterans out and injured.