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Reflecting on the Nuggets

denver nuggets 2Mark Kizla, a sports reporter for the Denver Post posed this question/answer this morning, “What happened to teams whose coach is the star?

They crash and burn. The NBA is a players’ league”. The notion that you can’t win without a star in the NBA will rage on in Denver for another year, but things could have been so different. Could of, should of, would, of, it doesn’t matter. Denver’s season is done, way earlier than the great fans of this city expected.

Another one and done season for the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. After the incredible regular season where Denver won 57 games and were an amazing 38-3 at home, everything came to a disappointing end last night. For me personally, I am at a crossroads when I look at this Denver Nuggets team. I am no sports genius by any stretch of the imagination, but I really thought this Denver Nugget team could make some noise in the 2012-13 NBA Playoffs. Especially with the fact that the Western Conference is so wide open this year, this really could have been a special year for the Nuggets. Unfortunately, it was the same old same old Denver Nuggets teams were accustomed to seeing in the playoffs. With the 6 game series loss to the Golden State Warriors last night, that made it 9 out of 10 years with Denver being bounced in the 1st round. For me, this is the most painful playoff elimination for multiple reasons.

First off, Denver was absolutely dominant at home this year and to get home court in the playoffs was a huge factor for all the optimism leading into the postseason. That made the Game 2 loss against the Warriors absolutely crushing. If Denver took care of Game 2 at home, even with Warriors win last night, we are still headed to Denver for a Game 7 on Saturday. George Karl even said after last night’s loss, “In Game two, we gave back everything we worked for all season”.

Secondly, Denver led the league in points in the paint all year long and was one of the most aggressive teams in terms of driving to the lane and not settling for jump shots. I know it wasn’t just me, but these postseason Denver Nuggets looked a shade of the team that was so dominant in the regular season. Next up, I have to discuss the dreaded 3rd quarter. Every game of the series vs. Golden State, they crucified Denver in the 3rd quarter. I have to question the coaching staff here and wonder what was said during halftime. There is no excuse in the world you can tell me for how the Nuggets came out flat to start the 3rd quarter game after game after game in this series.

Alas, we come to defense and boy was that ugly this series. So many open three pointers, so many uncontested lay ups, Denver just showed a major weakness when it was forced to get stops when the game got close. I’m tired of the “this team is young excuse”, make adjustments guys and during this series that rarely happened and Denver was sent packing. Free throws, ridiculous three point attempts, turnovers, composure, big men production, coaching, Gallo’s absence, the questionable refereeing, there is so much that I won’t get into because let’s face it, it’s not going to help ease the pain.

No matter how you dice it, Denver got outplayed and down the stretch the Warriors showed more character, physical toughness, mental strength, chemistry, and better coaching to win the series. Winning in the playoffs is so much more than talent. Yes, the Nuggets are a better team on paper when it comes to talent vs. the Warriors, but the games still have to be played and Golden State deserved to advance. That is painful for me to say as I have watched the Denver Nuggets all my life and for them to choke again year after year in the playoffs hurts. I can’t put into words how disappointed and downright embarrassed I was last night when the elimination became reality.

Off course we as Nuggets Nation will stand up and support our team come October. Make no mistake though, this 2012-13 season can only be looked upon as a failure and a major letdown to the whole city and fans. Kenneth Faried, who for me seemed the most disgusted with how the season turned out said, “In my honest opinion, we won 57 games in the regular season, big whoop. We had home-court advantage. But, we’ve got to live with it”.

Living with it will be the toughest thing for Nugget players and fans this summer.

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