After a promising start to the season, your Denver Nuggets seem to have started down the long, dark, dreary path of playing like garbage. After the last two losses where the Nuggets failed to show up, they now face the team with the best record in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls.
Denver: 26-23 (11-11 on the road)
Streak: Lost 2
Chicago: 40-10 (20-4 at home)
Streak: Won 4
Denver: Rudy Fernandez (back surgery) and Danilo Gallinari (fractured left thumb) are both out. Andre Miller (separated right shoulder) is probable.
Chicago: Richard Hamilton (Right shoulder sprain) and Derrick Rose (groin) are both listed as day to day.
Television: Altitude 2/NBA TV
Season Series: 0-0 only meeting this season.
Opposition's Take: Blog a Bull
The Bulls have the best record in the league. The Bulls have one of the best point guards in the league (who may or may not play). The Bulls have an active center named Joakim Noah who plays hard every night. A good small forward in Luol Deng. A good power forward in Carlos Boozer and a commitment to play defense.
So, the Nuggets have little chance. Even IF Rose doesn't play, the Bulls have shown that they can win without him playing great team ball and quite frankly the Nuggets are playing like garbage (more on that later). In the mean time lets talk about the Bulls. A great regular season team no doubt, but can the Bulls style of play (all defense, some offense) win in the playoffs?
It's my view that the Bulls remain one player away from winning the title. It's going to sound odd, but I don't believe frenetic defense and offense based on one player (primarily) is sufficient to win a title. Just like teams that are all offense and little defense (The Suns circa 04-09) are fundamentally flawed, so too I believe teams that rely too much on defense. The Bulls are in need of a legit scoring wing player to compliment Rose. If the Bulls get that ONE piece, I believe they are seriously on their way to winning several titles. Right now, the Bulls are racking up regular season wins like it so much chedda ... but come playoff time balance is needed. While they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, they struggled against the Heat who are a more balanced team who have more than one primary scorer. Once the Bulls have that ONE piece, they will be a contender for years and years.
As of right now...they are damn close. Nuggets made need religious intervention for this one
Nuggets of Wisdom
Sometime in the last two weeks the Nuggets stopped listening to George Karl. Don't know when it happened, or why, but they did. You hate to say it, but sometimes trades send signals to teams ... and maybe this signal to the players on the Nuggets was "we are giving up on the season". You never know. This team (I think it's indisputable at this point) have been severely depressed since Nene was traded. A marginally healthy Nuggets squad wasn't getting routinely blown out like they have been lately. Sure, the Nuggets could make the playoffs but they won't go anywhere playing the way they have the last several games. No defense. Iffy offense. No heart and very little passion. It's been hard to watch. It's frightfully clear the Nuggets have reacted badly to Nene being traded.
One thing the Nuggets MUST do is stop starting Timofey Mozgov at center. I am not sure what's happened to Moz but his production and overall play has gone down exponentially. He is bad on offense and hesitant on defense. He has hands of stone, and quite frankly he can't set a pick to save his life. It's been bad. At this point starting JaVale McGee makes more sense if only to look at what you have in him in the next couple of weeks. I think it's both practical, and, he's earned it.
This team misses Danilo Gallinari quite a bit. For obvious reasons actually. The offense flows better when he's out there "helping" Ty Lawson distribute the ball. However, Ty's recent struggles are on Ty himself. He can't continue to be aggressive for a week, and then passive for another. This is becoming a sad refrain and he is hurting the offense in a very bad way (nevermind being sub par on defense). I'm anticipating another Ty resurgence soon, but how long will that last? Consistency is not Ty's enemy and I don't know why he treats it as such.
The season is by no means "over". Yet, the Nuggets need to flip the switch now if they want to do anything in the playoffs. If not, it will be a long, sad end to a season that started out so promisingly. Then we will have to start using platitudes like "potential" and "growth" and "the future". Yep...I don't like it any more than you do.
Sometimes circumstances dictate it to be so.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78