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Nuggets 124 @ Wizards 103

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Nuggets indeed Wiz through Washington

I was trying to come up with a more creative title for this little write up than I did for the preview, but I realized something. “Why should I work harder than the Nuggets did tonight?” So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to breeze through this write up just like my Nuggets did against the Wizzzzards.

Before tipoff I found myself pondering one simple question. What coverage should I watch for this one? On one hand I had ESPN and on the other I had Altitude. I absolutely love listening to Scott Hastings call the games because the guy is in tune with the team, knows the game, cracks me up, and is a complete homer. I have never really understood fans that complain about the “homerism” that goes on with local broadcasters. Well, Hastings travels with the team and is an employee of ALTITUDE television that is owned by … you know Nuggets’ owner Stan Kroenke. Hastings isn’t totally here to just give us the basics of a balanced game. He, from what I gather, likes the players on this team and is pretty much just an extension of the team itself - which I don’t mind in the least. Actually that was my problem with ESPN’s broadcast.

I knew that if I chose to watch ESPN’s coverage that I’d be putting up with guys who don’t really know the team in-and-out and would be giving me fluff pieces all night about the Billups trade and how Melo was snubbed by not making the all-star team. So what was I to do? Well, Denver is not always nationally broadcast and I know that the broadcast team featuring Hubie Brown would be telling us more about the team in the lead than the team playing from behind … and I also figured Denver would have such lead for the better part of the game.

I chose to watch ESPN’s coverage. I wanted to hear the national perception of our Denver Nuggets. I expected the perception of the team to be flattering, but I also expected the Nuggets to get a little disrespect and not fully be counted among the NBA’s “elite.” I came away feeling exactly how I expected to. Denver got some love from Hubie, but when it came time to discuss the major players in the NBA the short list of “contenders” did not include the Denver Nuggets. Brown’s colleague (forgive me I am drawing a blank on his name) mentioned that perhaps the Nuggets should be included on that list … the idea was sort of laughed off. And that is what this whole season is about or should be about for the Nuggets. Gregg Popovich after all just taught the Nuggets a lesson about “big games” in the regular season by sitting his Big 3 in what was being built by at least me as a clash of two powerhouse teams.

The lesson? The regular season, although important for playoff seeding, really doesn’t mean shit. Is it good that the Nugget just demolished another sub .500 team and improved to 20-1 in said matchups? Well of course it’s good and tells us that Denver is placing more importance on all of their games.

But wait … what about what Chauncey Billups has been preaching since his arrival? That EVERY game is important and EVERY game has implications on the looming playoffs. That is also very true. The Nuggets problem since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony has been getting over that 1st Round playoff hurdle. The Nuggets have learned how to win 50+ games and now they are learning a valuable lesson: play the game the right way.

Teams like the Spurs can put themselves on cruise control because they have learned how to play the game the right way. The best example I can come up with for what I’m trying to explain is your freshman year of college. Your parents either wave goodbye as you leave the driveway, wave goodbye as you board the plane, or you wave goodbye to them as they drive off leaving you with just your belongings. Everything is now up to you. You have to figure out what to eat and when to eat, how to balance getting to class, how to balance your social life with said classes, and perhaps how to hold a job while doing this. Sounds pretty freaking easy to those who look back on it and think to themselves, “ah, the easy life.” But that mentality right there is the Spurs. The Spurs have the been there and done that college degree in the form of championship rings. Denver is still that freshman that maybe has been through the first semester and figured some things out and thinks perhaps they know the game within the game a little bit, but I think Billups has shown the team that perhaps they need to look back and realize the way things were being done were allowing them to say … earn a passing grade; but to get to the next level they needed or need to go back and get a new routine … a better routine.

Yes, I’m thrilled that Denver is 34-16 and off to their best start in franchise history. But I want more. Denver could win their next 32 games in a row and finish 66-16 and then lose in the first round of the playoffs and it would all be for not. I feel that at this point in the season I’m just ready for the playoffs to start. I want to know if Denver can beat these playoff bound teams. I don’t care that they beat the now 10-40 Wizards 124-103. The Wizards have 48 guys out with injuries … what did I learn from this game? I learned that Denver is not going to let a NBADL team beat them. You say, well what about the Thunder game … after all they are the 12 win Thunder (thanks for beating Portland for us last night by the way). The Thunder are up and coming … the Wizards are dead in the water - there is a difference there.

The season is still relatively young and Denver has a long way to go and a lot of games to determine where they will end up and I am along for the ride. I love the basketball they are playing this season and I can’t stand to miss a second of it. I must have heard, “can we turn the game off yet?” at least 12 times from one of the roommates last night as I kept telling him, NO!

I believe in this team and I believe in what they can do. Tonight I watched Chris Anderson swat 5 shots and score 13 points - this guy was a non-factor in the NBA before the season started. I again watched JR Smith grow up just a little bit more in this back-to-back set and show off his shooting touch. I saw Carmelo Anthony go 10-17 and lead the team with 23 points. I watched Chauncey Billups go 4-6 from three-point land. I watched Kenyon Martin record a team high +40 in the +/- category. I watched Dahntay Jones come off the scrap heap in the offseason to go 4-4 to start the game on nothing but sweet jumpers. I watched the Nuggets as a team shoot 56% tonight from the floor. I watched the Nuggets earn their 34th win of the season after the local and national media left them out of the playoffs before the first game tipped off.

I watched the Denver Nuggets play as a team. I’m watching the Denver Nugget play as a team. I want to watch this team be THE team. I want to see the Nuggets become elite and I may be witnessing that right before my very eyes.

The Opposition: Bullets Forever

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