There are only 7 games left in the NBA regular season, and the Nuggets still hold the 2nd seed in the Western Conference tied with the Warriors at 51 wins and 24 losses. Denver has gone 8-2 in the last 10 games, and they will have a few difficult contests in the coming 11 days. Sadly, the Portland Trailblazers won’t be what they were before Jusuf Nurkic was injured so the Nuggets meeting them in a home and home match-up two times may allow them to tally a couple of more wins before time is up. Prayers for a speedy and full recovery for Nurk.
Denver is making their way into the post-season amid some concerning inconsistency, but they’ve been able to capture wins nonetheless so we can’t be too worried. Although they’re still growing, they’ve managed to find a way to win so if there is an overall theme to cling to as they head into the playoffs, that’d be it.
Let’s take a look back at this week and talk about some of the most notable moments.
Nuggets get blown out by Indiana by 36
Listen, there are a myriad of perfectly understandable reasons the Nuggets dropped this game in Indiana. They were on the last game of a road trip, and they put in good work to win the first 3 contests of the 4 game stint. Traveling, sleeping in hotels, and a tight schedule all contribute to fatigue and ultimately poor performance.
But, that’s the job.
I may get some flack for being hard on these guys, but there can’t be any excuses made for losing a game in this fashion. They’re professionals, and as such it’s their job to show up ready to perform each game. Simply put, they failed to do that.
Perfectionism is unhealthy, but the only way to feel good about the work you put in is if you feel like you did your best. When I was younger in school, I would occasionally get a bad grade on a test or some other important assignment. My mom never scolded me for a bad grade, but she would ask me if I gave my best. In that way, I learned to take responsibility for my performance and honestly decide for myself if I was giving my best effort. None of us give 100%, 100% of the time. But, we can work to give the best we’ve got on that particular day and hopefully work to do even better the next.
I’m not as concerned about the loss as I am about how badly they lost. They didn’t show up to play, and that’s unacceptable. What’s done is done, but I hope to see the Nuggets learn from this and find a way to dig deep in these types of competitions on the road in the future.
Denver dug deep to win against Detroit
It wasn’t pretty, but the Nuggets fought to regain control of a game that should have never come off the tracks and pulled off a win. After an incredible start against the Detroit Pistons, the Nuggets left their game in the locker room at halftime and decimated all the hard work they put in in the first 24 minutes.
I’m certain Coach Mike Malone doesn’t appreciate these nail biters, and this is exactly the inconsistency he’s been criticizing the team about in his post-game interviews lately. This type of thing may work out alright in the regular season, but in the playoffs they won’t be able to pick and choose which quarters they want to show up for.
My opinion is that this is a mental battle. They need to decide to lock-in for the full 48 minutes of the game, and don’t bother themselves with the score. If they go to the locker room up by 30 at the half, they need to walk back onto the court as if the game is tied and play through to the end.
Just like in golf, they need to follow through completely to finish a good shot. They have 7 games left to find their swing again.
The bright side
As I mentioned above, the Nuggets are 8-2 in the last 10 dropping games to Indiana, and the Houston Rockets in blowout losses. The good news is that they’ve been able to strategize and find a way to get wins even when they put themselves into precarious situations.
Ideally, they won’t put themselves in those situations to begin with, but without getting too picky, a win is a win. I know they can do better, and perhaps the jitters of what will be in the playoffs has them all a little on edge.
They need to forget about all the expectations everyone has for them and trust what they know. Their skills and instincts have gotten them this far. Now, the only thing that can stand in their way is themselves.
If the Nuggets keep the 2nd seed, I will be ecstatic for them and the season they’ve had. It would complete the Cinderella story for them to capture the first slot, but they’ve already far exceeded what anyone thought they would do this year so I’d rather see them relax, and play their brand of basketball the best they can heading into the first round.