With 18 games left in the regular season, Denver sits two-and-a-half games behind Golden State for the number-eight playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Denver’s last six games were tough (except the Grizzlies on Wednesday), and they went 3-3 against Houston – arguable the hottest team in sports right now – Phoenix, Utah, and San Antonio, who they played twice.
Their upcoming games may expose Denver’s Achilles’ heel.
There’s no reason for the Nuggets not to come away with six wins from the next seven games, as none of the upcoming opponents have records above .500 and are no where near a playoff spot. Any losses will leave only Denver to blame. It will be feast or famine.
The final 11 games will not be so easy, as they face crucial matchups against Golden State (twice) along with red hot Houston, Phoenix and Dallas. But let’s not look to far ahead – for now they better just win against the junk teams. The road to the playoffs will be a tight race and there is no room for hiccups.
Nuggets’ coach George Karl told The Denver Post on Wednesday that he is looking to win 50 games to make the playoffs. Will that be enough?
“The formula I’ve given my team basically, we want to shoot for 50,” Karl told the Denver newspaper. “I think we can get to 50, it sounds hard but really isn’t. The last week, or last 10 days of the season, we might have to upgrade that to 51 or 52 games, but at this moment you don’t have to get crazy.”
There is no question that Denver has the talent to make it into the playoffs, and make it far. Alongside Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, players like Marcus Camby, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, who led a third-quarter comeback Wednesday evening with 16 points to beat the Grizzlies 108-86, have stepped up their play to make Denver one of the most exciting teams in the league.
Did anybody see Smith’s performance against San Antonio last Monday? Even though the Nuggs lost the game 107-103, the game was a real treat as Smith, who is in his third year and is normally known as a spot-on three-point shooter, repeatedly drove to the net over the Spurs’ Tim Duncan. Smith had 22 points and six rebounds in just 28 minutes of play against the Spurs. He was, that night, as exciding player as I have seen in a while. Both Mello and AI were in his shadow. Coach Karl must play Smith more. He is as dynamic as they come.
So what if the Nuggs don’t make it to the playoffs, or worse yet, lose in the first round? Who or what is to blame? I am interested to know. Is it Karl? Defense? Offense? Or just not being able to win the close game?
My infinite sports wisdom fails me.
Here we have a well-rounded team, on the court for the past two years, led by a respectable coach, but they just can’t seem to make it in the postseason. They could be the best team in the league – hey, the beat the pants off Boston last time they met. Do the Nuggets have the character to become champions? They are physically great, so maybe it’s a character flaw that can be fixed through regular sessions with a shrink. I don’t know. I am truly puzzled by the Nuggets and I hope my head clears in the coming weeks with some important and crucial wins.
The only thing worse than watching basketball is watching bad basketball. And, damn it! I am tired of it.