|Game 10: 2014-15 NBA Season|
|Nov. 1, 2014|
|Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
|7:00 PM MT|
|Altitude / 950 AM
|Reggie Jackson||PG||Ty Lawson|
|Jeremy Lamb||SG||Arron Afflalo|
|Lance Thomas||SF||Wilson Chandler|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Kenneth Faried|
|Steven Adams||C||Timofey Mozgov|
|Welcome to Loud City||Blogs||Denver Stiffs|
|Grant Jerrett (Out), Perry Jones (Out), Andre Roberson (Out), Russell Westbrook (Out), Kevin Durant (Out)||Injuries||Randy Foye (Day-To-Day), J.J. Hickson (Day-To-Day), Nate Robinson (Day-To-Day), Danilo Gallinari (Day-To-Day)|
|The Thunder are off to their worst start in franchise history, since opening 2008 with a 1-16 record.||Etc...||Lawson has dished out at least nine assists in each of his last three games.|
These are trying times for the Denver Nuggets on and off the court. Health issues, rotation issues, offensive issues, defensive issues, personnel issues. Now accusations are bubbling up against GM Tim Connelly, their scathing to say the least. Questions of his intelligence, capabilities, and viability (and any more "ilities" you can think of) as a leader.
Winning in the NBA is always a balm for any cloud that hangs over a franchise. Well, here we are: the Nuggets on a 2-1 streak, looking to make it three against another injury-felled team, devoid of direction, but tirelessly fighting in every game.
Key Matchup: Desperation vs. Preservation
The Nuggets are coming off their best three game stretch of the season. They're averaging a five-point margin of victory over that stretch in their two wins, which included a win over the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Good habits were found on both sides of the ball for the Nuggets.
They still cannot afford to let the bottom fall out, not with the issues surrounding all levels of the franchise. A fall back to the losing-side of things could really bring the urgency to make haste trades or deals, when it's not needed.
The Thunder, as much as they have suffered in personnel losses, have continuously scraped and clawed to stay in almost every game. When Lance Thomas is starting for your team, you know things are in a desperate state.
With the surprise teams rising in the West (Sacramento, Memphis), the Thunder absolutely have to keep fighting to stay as close to the playoff race until back up arrives. They can't afford to suffer a playoff-less season so close to the summer of 2016 (when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent). Every game counts for them.
Build on what is working
Speaking of that Cleveland game, the Nuggets have to recognize the success they had on the defensive side of the ball. Their activity in that game should carry over, especially in the thin Denver air.
Denver's ability to keep OKC out of the paint should be easier than it was against LeBron James and Co. Reggie Jackson is the only dependable ballhandler on the Thunder, and they are not a team that will light it up from the outside. The Nuggets should also look to run more than usual (see the win against another undermanned team, the Indiana Pacers), but who knows if that team will show up tonight.
The Thunder are struggling to even utilize their potent fastbreak attack with no Russell Westbrook or Durant, this could play right into the Nuggets hands. With a healthy Lawson there is no longer a good excuse not to.
Which team will show up?
The discombobulated, injury-prone, Arron Afflalo benching, Randy Foye-leading scorer Nuggets? Or the frenzied, attacking, Lawson-led, smart-rotation Nuggets we've seen only twice this year?
Though we seem to be over the Afflalo benching, one dramatic move in a close game by head coach Brian Shaw could be the difference between a win and a loss. Can Faried utilize his athleticism more against a fellow athletic team or will struggle against another elite power forward (albeit, one that doesn't have the low post game that gives him trouble, but he could suffer on the boards)?
Consistency is one word we have yet to see, even in the recent road trip. Two wins with similar make-ups could go a long way to parsing out a direction for this team.
Well the Nuggets organization is under fire, I think Denver rains down fire on the Thunder, tonight. OKC mounts a small, but futile comeback, but it's too little too late as the Nuggets pull off the 105-89 win.
And I do not feel confident about that prediction.