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Nuggets Weekly Digest - January 19

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You win some, you lose some.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

The 2018-2019 NBA season is officially past the halfway point, and as suspected the competition in the league is starting to get a lot more interesting.

Our Denver Nuggets fell from grace a bit this week with a humbling loss at the hands of the defending champs to put them half of a game back from the 1st slot in the Western Conference standings.

Not to worry, second place is a far cry from 9th so Denver is still in very good shape overall, but this week’s developments point out some key things to be aware of as the season presses on.

Let’s recap the highlights, and takeaways.

Nuggets lose by 31 to the Warriors

A loss is a loss, but any team from probably any time period would have lost to the Golden State Warriors this past Tuesday night. Setting a first quarter points record with 51, the Warriors’ history-making game showed exactly what they’re capable of when they execute like the well-oiled machine they are.

With 3 of their starters combining for almost 90 points at over 65% from three along with solid contributions from the bench, the Warriors played basketball at its finest and it was simultaneously impressive and depressing to witness.

As a basketball fan, I love to watch incredible teams execute in every area of the game. I particularly enjoyed watching the Celtics press on in the face of injury to reach a point of success that I don’t think anyone thought they would last season. And, as much as I cheer against the Warriors on principle because I STILL hate Kevin Durant’s sell-out move to Golden State, I have to give credit where it’s due and appreciate a game well-played.

On the flip-side I was a little deflated to watch the Warriors stomp out the Nuggets the way they did. Not only because I don’t like to see the Nuggets lose, but because I believe the Warriors’ execution showed how NOT ready the Nuggets are to take on a Warriors team at a playoff level.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t take anything away from our guys. They’ve had an incredible season so far, and I’m truly impressed at the improvements they’ve made in a seemingly short period of time. However, they’re just half of a season into this level of success so it’s no surprise that they still have some ground to cover before they’re ready to sustain their position above the top teams in the league as the playoffs draw closer.

Nuggets beat the Bulls by 30

After their beat down, the Nuggets wasted no time getting back to work with a stunning win over the Chicago Bulls. The poor Bulls are currently the second-worst team in the East, and also the second-worst team in the league so the win was a literal slam-dunk. However, those types of games are sometimes the ones teams lose when they think they’ve got it in the bag. (Dare I remind us of the loss to the Memphis Grizzlies late in the season last year.)

With 7 players in double figures at a team average of 50% from three and 6-3 pointers in the third quarter alone, the Nuggets executed well led by Jamal Murray with 25 points.

What I particularly like about this win is that the Nuggets are continuing to show growth in maturity. It would be easy to become discouraged after a 31-point loss, and perhaps drop another game to a bad team, but the Nuggets quickly refocused and got back into a winning habit showing us that they are true professionals.

Good job, guys.

A prediction:

Everyone who reads my columns knows that there’s nothing I dislike in the basketball world more than a ball-hog who drags a team down. There are several of these types of players in the league, and while I won’t name them, they’re easy to pick out. They’re typically the ones who bring in 30+ points per game, but somehow their team can’t make a dent in the playoffs.

Looking at DeMarcus Cousins, I have to respect the incredible athlete he is. He holds a career average of 21 points and 11 rebounds per game, averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds before his injury last season.

But however great Cousins may be individually, he has a track record of being a bit of a plague for the teams he plays for. Although he went to the playoffs by way of the New Orleans Pelicans last season, his injury had him sidelined meaning he’s played a grand whopping total of ZERO playoff games in his career.

My main problem with Cousins is that he’s a virtual black-hole for ball movement, and being that he’s going to be making his debut with the Warriors very soon, I see both trouble and opportunity.

I see trouble for the Warriors because one of their main offensive weapons is rapid ball movement. In fact, you hardly ever see the ball touch the floor when they have possession. This allows them to confuse their defenders and find the best option available to take the shot.

I see an opportunity for the Nuggets to capitalize on what I believe will be a weak link in the Warriors’ chain. If Denver can win the first couple rounds of the playoffs to move on to face the Warriors, I think they can exploit Cousins’ isolation tendencies and cripple the Warriors’ offense—that is if another team doesn’t do it first.

The Nuggets take on the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at 8pm, so I look forward to them working to recapture their 1st place position in the West.