I have been putting this post off all weekend. Even if you did not see the Nuggets loss to Milwaukee, you know how it unfolded. The Nuggets, fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Bulls, got out to a big early lead and then decided that Milwaukee had had enough of the great Nuggets juggernaut.
We should have seen the collapse coming. The Nuggets were not moving the ball very well on offense, they were able to get out to a big lead because the Bucks were not getting back on D and they were getting to the line repeatedly. I would not call their scoring flukish, but they were not doing very well in their half court offense. As soon as Milwaukee started getting back on D the Nuggets were in trouble.
Denver only managed to score 45 points in the second half and the Bucks threw up 65! In fact, Milwaukee put up 96 points in the second, third and fourth quarters the night after Chicago scored 102 points over the last three quarters. I guess that is a five point improvement from one night to the next, so clearly the Nuggets are moving in the right direction.
Michael Redd gets the attention for having his big scoring game, but the Nuggets lost control of this game by losing control of the paint just like they did in Chicago. Bogut ruled the glass and Milwaukee has no problems getting point blank shots. Villanueva, Mason and Redd were able to continuously get easy looks inside.
If I remember right the Nuggets outrebounded Milwaukee in the first half, but ended up getting outrebounded 53-40 for the game and the Bucks grabbed 20 offensive rebounds for the game, most of which were in the second half.
It was just another horrible display of basketball. The sad thing is they just beat the team with the best record in the NBA three games ago and they will probably come out and play very well against a streaking Detroit Piston team at home tomorrow.
All I care about though is the Nuggets just dropped two games they should have won heading into the toughest portion of their schedule this season.
But you know what, I think we are going to be OK here because Chucky Atkins is coming back in a couple of weeks. Then everything will be just fine then.
Other Observations From Game 55:
- I thought it was interesting that the Nuggets went to Melo on the left block over and over down the stretch. Melo has typically received the ball on the right block and that seems to be where he is most comfortable. He did make a couple of baskets, including a big three point play to keep things close, but he also had a bad turnover and big miss.
- I also thought it was interesting that down four with 30 seconds left George Karl drew up a play for J.R. Smith to take a desperation three. They had plenty of time to get a quick two and try to extend the game, but that miss and the subsequent defensive rebound basically ended the game.
- On only one occasion did I see any Nugget try to get his teammates fired up and it was Kenyon Martin. Of course, it did little good as the very next possession Kenyon lost Charlie Villanueva and gave up an easy back door dunk because Martin was trying to deny Michael Redd a pass coming off a down screen. Trying to pump up your team generally works best by backing up your own words by playing well. Otherwise, you are the annoying guy no one wants to play with.
- That is really nothing new tough. When I watch these guys I never think to myself, "Boy it would be fun to be out there and play with those guys." They just do not share the ball at all. Sure, they can rack up the assists some games, but that is due more to running than really being unselfish and moving without the ball.
- Kenyon pressuring Redd on the screen is fine, but everyone has to be on the same page and if Kenyon is supposed to be denying the ball to Redd coming off the down screen, someone has to be ready to cover the basket if his man makes the smart play and makes a back door cut. I think Kenyon did it on his own and it was not a team wide defensive breakdown, but that just goes to show how important every individual’s positioning is on defense.
- The Nuggets are very adept at getting steals, but when they go for a steal and miss, they leave their teammates in a potentially perilous situation. This is a catch-22 situation because we all want the Nuggets to run and getting a steal is one of the best ways to trigger a fast break, but missing the steal can cause a big breakdown on defense.
I believe that the Nuggets need to lay off going for so many steals and focus more on playing good position oriented defense. They can still run off of missed shots, which theoretically would increase by playing straight up defense, and even off of makes. They have not run off makes at all in Milwaukee and Chicago.
- How is this for crunching the numbers? AI and Melo combined to shoot 17-37 in from the floor in Chicago and they shot 17-37 in Milwaukee. From the free throw line they shot 16-18 against Chicago and in Milwaukee they combined to shoot, you guessed it, 16-18 from the line as well. Obviously, the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is when AI and Melo combine to shoot 17-37 from the floor and 16-18 from the line on the road against a Central Division team, they lose in horrific fashion.
- I think the Nuggets are already pretty much solidified in eighth or ninth place in the conference. I cannot see them catching Houston, Dallas, Utah, Phoenix, New Orleans, San Antonio or the Lakers. At this point does anyone think the Nuggets are better than any of those teams?
Denver is currently in ninth place five and a half games back of LA and sinking fast.
The excellent Brew Hoop has a recap of the game here if you are interested, and I think you should be.