I'm going to forgo the usual preview chart tonight for a special comment on the Nuggets at home, the tragic loss of a once titanic home court advantage. The Pelicans come into town fighting for the 8th playoff spot in the West. The Nuggets have played them twice already, so you are very much familiar with their makeup by now. Nuggets beat the Pelicans in January shortly before a moment which shook the franchise and laid bare the fundamental issues at the core of this team. The teams play at 6pm this evening (mountain time) and the game will be on Altitude TV/AM 950.
The Pelicans are a half game out of the 8th playoff spot in the West!! That's pretty amazing in such a competitive conference. Anthony Davis is currently out injured, however and that has made the Pelicans journey much more difficult.
The Nuggets beat the Pelicans in New Orleans on January 29th. A day later they played the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis and got crushed. It was the teams 8th game in 11 nights and it was one of those inevitable "schedule losses" that everyone in the NBA talks about. After the game Brian Shaw ripped the team, and admitted that he hadn't spoken to them after the game. The Nuggets players were clearly upset, and their play the subsequent home game against the Charlotte Hornets reflected how upset they were at their coach.
The Nuggets have lost 9 games in a row at home. NINE. Nuggets are dangerously close to tying their longest losing streak at home ever, which was during the Dick Motta interim coaching stint with the Nuggets in 1996-97. That streak was 11 games. Nuggets are at and embarassing 12-17 at home. Should it really be like that?
It's hard to imagine the Denver Nuggets so thoroughly losing their home court advantage. It's unforgivable. While Chris Dempsey has an article out that reflects poorly on a Nuggets huddle in the last game against the Utah Jazz, it should be pointed out that this is not a sudden thing. These players and this coach are heading toward an inevitable divorce, and everyone bears responsibility ... but it also means that we have crossed the point of no return with both the roster and this coach I'm afraid. There's no pulling the rabbit out of a hat here, everyone is to blame.
The locker room is a morgue. Players are either frustrated or blah. The new spin from the coach is that the players are plodding and not lane runners. However, this isn't true. It's never been true. Here is a quote from Brian Shaw in Dempsey's article about the Nuggets offense:
"Our guys are more plodders as opposed to lane runners and getting out and running," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. "So that has a lot to do with it. We have gotten the ball inside more to (Jusuf Nurkic), which has slowed things down."
One of the things Brian Shaw has pointed out is that the loss of Corey Brewer has prevented the Nuggets from running. However, the Nuggets just acquired another version of C-Brew in Will Barton. You know what, the Nuggets still don't "run" and they have a lane runner. What does that say about the Nuggets? Also, watch this clip from Nuggets GM Tim Connelly on "taking advantage of the altitude" from the Les and Woody show two weeks ago.
"We are going to have to be a team that gets up and down ... this is Denver..."
There is an extreme disconnect between the coach, and what it seams like the team wants to do. This team isn't plodding. You have Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson, Will Barton, Joffrey Lauvergne (who Connelly says will thrive in an up tempo offense) and Gary Harris, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler and (when healthy) Danilo Gallinari. That isn't a plodding team. The only player that seems to be semi-plodding is Jusuf Nurkic ... but the Nuggets don't exactly feature him in the post.
Brian Shaw has said no lane runners this whole season, and it seems to fly in the face of certain evidence. The Nuggets lack of running at a consistent pace has killed their home court advantage and produced the worst stretch of home basketball in Denver since "The bad old days" of 18 years ago. That says all you need to know.
I'll leave you with the words of Dan Issel, who was on The Sports Show with Les Shapiro and Woody Paige on Friday
It reflects in their play, and their coach. Issel also said the Nuggets NEED to run in Denver. I highly suggest checking out his segments on the sports show. Great stuff.