It was quite an interesting first round for the Nuggets as they struggled through playoff jitters, poor defense, and inconsistency, but they pulled it off and advanced to the Western Conference Semi-Finals for the first time in a decade.
I have to admit that it’s pretty special to be covering this team at such an amazing time in their history, and I’m so excited for where they’re at. I love nothing more than proving the naysayers wrong—even when those naysayers were me for a brief time.
While I wasn’t excited to see them struggle with things that have held them back in the past, I was impressed by how they never gave up the fight. It sure payed off!
Now that the Nuggets are heading into the second round of the post-season (am I really saying that right now?!), let’s look back at this week and take a look at some key moments before looking ahead to round 2.
Nuggets are 8th youngest team to make it in the post-season—the youngest 2 seed ever, and they stayed
Obviously, this is old news given that they already made the post-season, but I really think it’s important to reflect on this no that they’ve put away the first round. Denver did a stellar job taking care of business in the regular season, but I was really curious to see how their youth would fare in the playoffs against the very experienced Coach Gregg Popovich and his San Antonio Spurs.
Most everyone on the Nuggets team, including Coach Mike Malone, is new to the post season so although the regular season’s stats are incredible, the rubber meets the road quite a bit more now that things have gotten more competitive. And even though they’ve already entered the ranks of this rare youthful air, to me it means a lot more that they didn’t get immediately pushed out.
During the regular season everyone was talking about how excited they were to see Denver in the Western Conference Finals this year, but I really wanted to temper my expectations for them and not set myself up for disappointment. For me, seeing them making the playoffs was enough, and I was holding my real excitement to see if they could make it past the first round.
Well, they got it done and now they advance to the semis surpassing what I think all of us thought they were going to do before this year started. Given that they’re so young, what are the amazing things that lie in their future?
Inconsistency & poor defense are still a problem, but the Nuggets are fighting
The only way to take a weakness and turn it into a strength is by working at it over and over. Our weaknesses don’t go away over night, but the best thing we can do is admit we have them and tackle them head on when the time comes.
All of us are tired of seeing the Nuggets leave their defense at home, and the close-call nail-biting games are enough to drive us insane. To me, it’s hard to understand how such a huge chunk of what made Denver so successful this year can be forgotten in what seems’ like over night, but I have to keep in mind how far they’ve come.
It seems like ages, but it wasn’t that long ago that we saw Denver play virtually no defense whatsoever. This season, they’ve accepted the challenge to bring their defensive presence each game, and while that doesn’t always happen, we never see them give up.
I will support a team who is actively working on their weaknesses without shying away over those who simply accept the weakness without even trying to make it better. The Nuggets have fight in them, and it may not always be pretty, but they’ve found a way to overcome in the midst of their struggles. Who doesn’t love that?
Portland is rested, but Denver is sharp
The Portland Trail Blazers sent the Oklahoma City Thunder packing in just 5 games, and as a result, they’ve enjoyed a nice 5 day rest to recuperate heading into round 2. The Nuggets, however, get a quick one-day rest before they’re expected to start all over again against Portland.
In the playoffs I’ve seen teams who get too much rest get cold, while the team who is just coming off of a fight is sharp and hungry. Sure, the Nuggets are probably tired, but I think it’s better for them to keep in the rhythm of consistent games to keep their senses keen. It took Denver a few games to find their playoff rhythm, and if they can keep it moving against Portland perhaps they’ll get a rest before heading into the Western Conference Finals.
I predict the Nuggets will put Portland away in 6.
Game time is tomorrow at 8:30 MST, and I’m officially letting my excitement about this season loose! Can’t wait to see our guys get it done!