Posted on: May 14, 2009 11:58 am
Edited on: May 14, 2009 5:32 pm
As Kenyon Martin stood on the scores table after the game celebrating with fans I got chills down my spine. Was this really the same team who used to give up easy baskets, shoot 3's with 20 seconds on the shot clock and let themselves beat themselves?? It was, only this was the new Nuggets who are finally playing to their potential. Talent has never been the question as they have plenty of it from top to bottom. It always came down to the willingness to compete and treat every possession like it was the last.
Much credit will be given to Chauncey Billups, who is after all these years, still the real deal from Park Hill. I remember going to CU games back in the day with the Coors Event Center rocking. This guy brings excitement wherever he goes. After last nights closeout of the Dallas Mavericks in 5 seemingly easy games for the Nuggets, Billups has now been to the Conference Finals 7 years in a row. Lets just name the few others who have accomplished the same feat shall we... Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Michael Cooper, Magic Johnson... That is some pretty elite company and proves Billups status as a floor general and great leader. Magic Johnson calls him the best leader in the game today and he's right. Without Chauncey this year, if the Nuggets still had Allen Iverson, they would've been watching last nights game from their couch. No pun intended on Iverson but lets face it, Billups is a leader and Iverson wasn't.
Besides Chauncey you have to give all the credit to Carmelo Anthony and George Karl. Anthony has broke through at the perfect time and is playing the best basketball of his career. He is passing well out of double teams, hitting his mid-range jumper with ease and getting to the hole easier then an ice cream cone into a fat kids mouth. It is obvious this year more then any other that Melo finally just wants to WIN and win big. He's no longer satisfied with putting up great numbers and losing, and this shows signs of his ever growing maturity.
George Karl also found a way to save his job this season and resurrect his career all at the same time. Not bad for a guy who has 17 straight winning seasons as a head coach and has made the playoffs in 18 of 21 years as a head coach. Pretty good right... Well he's showing he has the smarts and game management abilities to lead the Nuggets to the promise land. Funny story considering these Nuggets upset his Seattle Supersonics in '94 who at that time were the first #1 seed to lose to a #8.
Overall the Nuggets look more mature by the moment. Kenyon Martin is playing stellar defense. Nene is shaping into a great post player. J.R. Smith is playing defense and being smarter with his shot selections as well as passing the ball well. Not too mention the Birdman.
These (our) Nuggets aren't done yet either. Look for them to make some noise in the Conference finals no matter who they face. Either the Lakers/ Rockets must be taking notice. Go Nuggets!!
Posted on: April 23, 2009 10:52 am
The Denver Nuggets are off to their first 2-0 series advantage since the conference semifinals of 1985. Chauncey Billups has been playing out of his mind, scoring 36 in game 1, 31 in game 2 while going 12-15 from downtown and dishing out 12 assists and 0 turnovers. Yes, 0 turnovers. You can tell he wants to win and win bad. He also played great defense on Chris Paul when he was on him.
The addition of Chauncey to this team has transformed it to one of the most entertaining teams in the league. You've got JR Smith nailing 3 pointers, Carmelo playing the best defense and offense of his life, dishing out a career playoff high of 9 assists last night. He's no longer trying to force shots and it's paying off for him and his teammates who are getting easy looks when he draws the double.
When you take that and the fact that the Nuggets are playing their best team defense in years, this looks to be a good year to make some noise in the postseason and give the city of Denver something to cheer for after 5 straight first round exits. If the Nuggets play the way they did in games 1 and 2, this should be a sweep and then they can get some rest heading into the second round as it seems almost inevitable that Dallas and San Antonio are going to go 6 or 7 games. The Nuggets won the season series agains the Spurs 2-1 and against the Mavericks 4-0 so they have the path they want to get to the Lakers. Now lets see if they can stay on that path.
They absolutely should be able to, JR Smith is playing with more poise and maturity, Dahntay Jones is playing great defense, Kenyon Martin is hounding David West and Chris Birdman Andersen is bringing energy every time he steps on the court. Combine that with the smooth steady play of Chauncey and the newly mature and team first Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets will go deep. The question is how far.