The Nuggets are having a fun season, and we've enjoyed watching our young guys develop in Michael Malone's system. It's a special day too, with our starting power forward celebrating another birthday.
We're in the kind of mood where we start asking questions about the team - questions such as these.
Q: The Nuggets next four games are against Phoenix, Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio. What's your prediction for the Nuggets in those games?
Hernan Birckenstaedt (@CombatChuk): Playing the Spurs in San Antonio after playing last night is tough, so I see a L there. Nuggets should bounce back against the Suns at home. Next playing the Warriors at home is also tough (as much as my heart wants to say otherwise) will probably be a L. I'll be optimistic playing the Clippers, I see a win there. So I'll take 2-2 for this stretch.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): Just looking at the quality of opponents it's going to be a rough stretch. I fully expect the Nuggets to come out firing all cylinders against Phoenix to make up for their awful performance against the Suns last week but after that I'm not optimistic. The precariously thin front court right now will struggle against San Antonio and Los Angeles, who both feature duos of all star big men and Golden State is just on a completely different level than the rest of the league right now. I'll take 1-3 over the next four.
Colin Neilson (Denver Stiffs): Given the pasting the Nuggets just received at the hands of Phoenix and the fusion-hot start of Steph Curry, it's hard for me to look at either of the games against Phoenix or Golden State as winnable contests. However, I loved the fact that Nuggets head coach Michael Malone called out the team on their lackadaisical effort against the Suns, and I expect them to come with cold water (because they're Suns, har har) against them at home. Still, put me down for 1-3 over the next four with a tentative hope for 2-2.
Q: What has been the Nuggets formula for success?
Birckenstatedt: Passing the rock. In wins, the Nuggets were always able to find the open man and give him an easy shot. In losses, the ball got sticky and tough shots were taken.
Mikash: Ball movement, attacking the basket and a healthy dose of Danilo Gallinari. When the offense stagnates and avoids the lane the Nuggets resort to contested fade away jumpers at the end of the shot clock (see: at Phoenix last week). It seems like a basic concept but for whatever reason Denver doesn't always execute it and they just don't have the shooters/playmakers to get away with iso ball. Gallo makes a huge difference as well, when he's on he's a terror to guard and it opens everything up for everyone else.
Neilson: Improved outside shooting and Danilo Gallinari are the keys to this team's success. As Gallo has evolved into a true stretch 4, defenses are forced to spread out and close out. In fact, in the early going, Denver has markedly improved their three point shooting this year, good for a middling 16th in the league. Last year, the Nuggets were close to the bottom (28th) in team three point shooting. It's no coincidence that the improved outside shooting has coincided with a better than expected record to this point. This opens a variety of attacking lanes for the rest of the team, and allows Emmanuel Mudiay to flourish with a smorgasboard of beautiful outside-in passes to talented cutters like Kenneth Faried, Will Barton and J.J. Hickson. Don't look now, but at 6-5 the Nuggets still hold the 7th seed in the ultra-competitive Western conference.
Q: WIth so many different foreign-language speakers on the team, which language should the Nuggets players learn for trash talk?
Mikash: In light of recent events, I say French. Joffrey Lauvergne can lead the charge in teaching the beautiful language and proud defiant French is something that everyone could use right now.
Neilson: The answer is Serbian. Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic can give lessons to the rest of the team on the most offensive curses and "yo momma" slams and only Boban Marjanović ( ) and Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves) will understand what they're saying.