As I prepared to watch the Denver Nuggets take on the Miami Heat at home, I looked at the facts and decided that it would be a tough game. There couldn't have been a starker contrast to what actually played out?
Aaron Afflalo and J.R. Smith did an outstanding job guarding Dwayne Wade and the rest of the Nuggets helped by double-teaming and trapping. I haven't seen such effective tactics used outside of high school basketball.
The Miami Herald said that the trap has been effective in lowering Wade's shooting percentage, which it has from 57% to 53%. Wade has earned a points per game average of roughly 26, and the Nugs held him to 25.
The only other Heat player in double digits was Michael Beasley with 27.
Furthermore, the Nuggets have established an effective switch on the low post. Kenyon Martin switching to cover forwards, and Carmelo Anthony switching to cover guards.
I expected a lot more out of Quentin Richardson who was in charge of shutting down Carmelo. A couple days earlier Richardson had forced Brandon Roy into 9 of 25 shooting while scoring 20 and grabbing 9 rebounds against the Trail Blazers. Richardson had 3 points last night? Huh?
Why do good wins often lead to stiffling losses? The Nuggets won over the Heat 114-96? Hmm? Does that elevate the Nuggets status? I don't think so.
I think the Nuggets have learned a lot from last season and have grown leaps and bounds (Ty Lawson dunking on 7 footers), but Denver lost to the Timber Wolves last Tuesday. Until bad teams are taken seriously, I personally can't believe that Denver is fully committed to winning a championship.
Chauncey Billups needs to take a look at Dirk Nowitzki during the 2008 NBA playoffs against the Nuggets. Dirk was the only hope for last year's Mavericks and he was renting out entire gymnasiums to work on his jump shot between games?!!
Billups' shot has been bad and it showed that it needed practice last night going 2 for 8 from the field. Come on big shot.
Afflalo, on the other hand, went 10 for 12 from the field and made all his three 3-point attempts. There's a guy who's trying to prove something. Chris Andersen had 10 rebounds, 9 points, showing everyone that the Warriors game wasn't a fluke.
All in all, the Denver team had six players in double digits and K. Mart's jump hook is making him look 5 years younger.
So, the Nuggets are on the cusp, but Denver fans have seen a lot of very good teams under Coach George Karl. This might be the best team Denver has had in ten years.
No resting on laurels, the Nuggets must continue to win every night. The Heat are an example of what the Nuggets do NOT want to be: A very good team playing very mediocre.