Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Denver Nuggets Go 57-25 Into the Playoffs

After a shaky start to the 2012-2013 season, with their first 22 of 32 games on the road, the Denver Nuggets came on strong in January and have played stellar basketball ever since.  The Nuggets are certainly not the same team as they were back in November, as they have grown together from a group of independent players to a well-oiled, synergistic team.

Franchise records have been set or tied this year:
  • 57 wins during the regular season - previous record was 54
  • 38 home wins during the regular season - previous record was 36
  • 15 game winning streak - previous record was 12 (NBA) and 15 (ABA)

George Karl has had one of the best seasons of his career and hasn't seen this kind of success since he coached in Seattle.  He is most deserving of Coach of the Year, making something out of nothing much.  If we examine the Denver Nuggets team, there are no true superstars, no true "go to" players, but a team full of players who are eager to win and play smart ball.

Andre Iguodala, case in point.  Iguodala's constant smart play will help the Denver Nuggets soar past the first round of the playoffs and potentially even land in the Western Conference or NBA Finals.  When he is not sinking shots, Iggy is not afraid to lay off the basket and contribute through assists, rebounds, and steals.  He knows exactly how to take charge and when to back off.  His mindful play has benefitted the Denver Nuggets this year.

Andre Miller, the veteran of the lot, also plays smart ball.  He is an extremely deliberate point guard and the alley-oop King if there were one.  Miller is able to connect with the younger, faster, stronger players, dishing out assists like nobody's business.  He has recently proven that he can lead starters just as well as he did the second string.  Andre Miller has definitely added to the Denver Nuggets' deep bench, coming in and playing hard every single night.

And then there are the youngsters.

Ty Lawson's return from a six-game hiatus will help the Denver Nuggets return to their fast-paced, running game that was missed during his absence.  The highest shooting player is back with a vengeance, ready to contribute to the playoffs, increasing the team's points in the paint.  

Kenneth Faried, when he returns, will help the Nuggets with rebounds and slam-dunks.  With his recent ankle injury, it is hard to say when he will return and how effective he will be.  His presence is definitely needed with Danilo Gallinari out of the starting lineup for the rest of the year.  Kenneth's energy is infectious and a core part of the team.  

Without Kenneth and Danilo, Wilson Chandler will step up and contribute to the Denver Nuggets' game.  His three-point shots at key moments makes him invaluable. He is not afraid to go to the hole, either, laying up or slamming the ball into the basket.  Chandler's game just continues to get better and better, with effective numbers on both ends of the court.

And, there is no talking about the Denver Nugets without mentioning how effective Corey Brewer has been this year.  The long-armed, energetic catalyst brings great play to the court, stealing balls like crazy and running with it from one end to the other without skipping a beat.  His three-point shots, like Wilson Chandler's always come at opportune times when the team needs the points the most.  Corey Brewer is definitely one of the most underrated players on the team and in the league.

If the Denver Nuggets continue the type of team play they've been exhibiting of late, there is no doubt they will go on to the Finals.  Their opponents are always stumped, not knowing which player will get hot on any given night.  The Denver Nuggets are most certainly one of the most difficult teams to defend.  Their points in the paint are second to none, and they score like it's going out of style.  Their points per game has remained near the top of the league.

The 2013 NBA Playoffs begin in just a few days.  Go Nuggets!  Take the Mile High Fans all the way to the finals.  This is the year to show everyone that superstars are not the key ingredient of a successful team.  TEAM is the key ingredient, and the Denver Nuggets are out to prove it!