Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Was This Really a Meaningless Win?

(Boulder-CO) You could argue that because none of the major characters for either team played in tonight’s game between the Nuggets and the Spurs, but I am here to tell you that you would be dead wrong in doing so. I too am guilty of thinking that this game was nothing more than scrounge time, however, somewhere in the third quarter it hit me: Some of these players (Robert Horry, J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, and Michael Finley just to name a few) could be the difference makers in this series.

Here is how the role players played out in tonight’s, 100-77, Nugget victory.

The Denver Nuggets had five players step-up and give them double figures in points. The top contributor was Reggie Evans who scored 19 points and snatched 20 rebounds in his best game of the season by far. J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza each scored 17, Steve Blake added 12 points and eight assists, and Yakhouba Diawara chipped in an even dozen. And at one point in the game, pun intended, the Nuggets were out in front by 27 before coasting to their 45th win to close out the 2006-07 season.

The Spurs on the other hand didn’t get the same kind of numbers from their bench players who saw significant time in tonight‘s contest. Beno Udrih scored a team-high 13 points, but Michael Finley, Robert Horry, and Brent Barry were all held to less than ten in the scoring column. What this tells me is that the Spurs could potentially find themselves in trouble with the Nuggets if their big names are not able to put up big numbers because their bench players are not able to put up enough in the scoring column to pick up the slack.

What will be critical in the upcoming series will be putting Greg Popovich in a position to play his second tier due foul trouble, fast-tempo, and tough defensive match-ups because what I think the Nuggets lack in experience and discipline they make up with bench scoring.

With their 45th win of the season the Nuggets have improved by one win over last year’s mark. With all the trades, the long suspensions served for the, “Little Grapple in the Big Apple”, and injuries I think that the Nuggets have come a long way since last season around this time. Granted the post-season road to hoe is looking a lot tougher this season than last, but I feel this team has been able to overcome a lot of adversity this year and wouldn’t be surprised if they give San Antonio more of a run for their money than they gave the Clippers in last year’s playoffs.

And as soon as the playoff schedule is released you can rest assured that I will be posting analytical game previews, recaps, and everything else in between concerning the Denver Nuggets and their 2007 playoff run.

Go Nuggets!

1 comment:

JM said...

I think you bring out some good points. In the battle of the role players, it appears that Denver has a little more depth on the bench than San Antonio.

It's easy to write off Denver because they are a 6th seed, but if they had a training camp with this bunch, I would suspect that Denver would be the one with home court advantage and they would be playing the 6th seed. Ever since Denver beat Seattle in '94, I have always felt that seeding is a bit overrated.

San Antonio is a great team, but they are beatable. Last year they didn't make it past the second round, and same with two years before that.

The key for Denver is scoring over a 100 points a game. San Antonio will have their hands full. Denver basically had one option 2 years ago (and last year); Carmelo. We have a healthy Nene, Najera will play this series as well (he didn't play against the Spurs two years ago), and we have multiple scoring options. The biggest factor is AI. I may be sounding like a broken record, but he is one of the BEST playoff performers in NBA history. In fact, his post season numbers are higher than his regular season numbers. His presence will factor in HUGE. Go Nuggets