Let’s be up front about the one big if for the Denver Nuggets: If Kenyon Martin’s knee is healthy.
Those six words should be in front of every other sentence in this post. Because if it is, if he is back to being the aggressive, physical force in the paint they need, Denver can compete for a title. They were one step short of the Finals last year. They are led by a guy in Chauncey Billups who knows how to make that next step. This is a good team.
Denver brings an attacking offense to the playoffs. They get 29 shots a game right at the rim, fifth best in the League. They lead the league in free throw shots attempted per field goal attempt — a fancy way of saying they get to the line a lot. They like to run, fifth fastest pace in the league. What’s more, they are relentless
Carmelo Anthony is as good a pure scorer as we see, and he has stepped up his game this year. JR Smith can hit threes or drive. Chauncey Billups is as smart a point guard as there is in the league. Then there is Nene and rookie Ty Lawson and the Birdman. This is a team deep with talent. Very deep.
Denver will have to improve in two areas to become the threat they are on paper. They have got to defend better, particularly the pick and roll. The Nuggets tend to switch on picks, and smart teams recognize this and exploit it. The Nuggets have to be better about not switching early in the clock. Allowing the other team to set up.
Next, Denver must rebound. Rebounds = rings. It’s just not something they focus on, not something the smaller front line does well. But they need to figure it out or it will come back to haunt them.
There would be no better story than George Karl returning from throat cancer to win it all. That would warm everybody’s hearts. And it could really happen…
When the starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans were announced this week, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter because Russell Westbrook — the guy averaging a triple-double this season — wasn’t picked. It’s hard for me to get worked up over two-time MVP Stephen Curry getting the nod, but if you want someone to blame it was the fans’ call — they voted Curry first overall, James Harden second, Westbrook third. The players and media had Westbrook first, Harden second, but the tie is broken by the fan vote.
Enter Baron Davis with the timely joke.
We just need to tie in a Zaza Pachulia joke and it will be perfect.
The Milwaukee Bucks had lost four in a row and had slid out of a playoff slot in the East. It’s not one end of the court — in their last five games, the Bucks had the second-worst defense and fourth-worst offense in the NBA. After that fourth loss, the team held a players’ only meeting, one where Jabari Parker reportedly ripped his teammates for a lack of togetherness.
In the postgame media sessions that followed, Parker told the press he confirmed there was a meeting and said he had been “thrashed” by his teammates for what he said.
It was that speaking to the media that got him benched for a game — as decided by his teammates — reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker did not start in Saturday’s road loss to the Miami Heat for violating a team rule that prohibits disclosing locker room discourse to the media, league sources told ESPN…
Parker’s teammates deliberated and decided the appropriate punishment for the violation was to bring him off the bench against the Heat, league sources told ESPN. It was the first time this season that he did not start.
The meeting and the benching didn’t help, the Bucks fell to the lowly Heat 109-97. (Team/players meetings are overrated in how often they help teams turn things around.)
The good news for the Bucks is that in a tight East they remain just a game out of the playoffs and three games out of the five seed. It’s going to be a tough week to turn that around with the Rockets, resurgent Sixers, Raptors, and Celtics on the schedule.
Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers don’t have much going for them offensively. However, there is one thing: DeAndre Jordan can still run to the rim and dunk with authority.
Denver’s Kenneth Faried took that away Saturday.
Faried hustled back in transition, showed he still had some hops and swatted away a Jordan dunk attempt.
The Nuggets went on to win the game comfortably, 123-98, behind 19 points and 10 boards from Nikola Jokic.
The Knicks last three losses have come by a total of six points. The team is not good, a little banged up, and doesn’t play any defense, but New York also has just had a run of bad luck.
The latest example: Phoenix’s Devin Booker draining a three to knock off New York, 107-105. It was a mistake by Derrick Rose, who sagged down to the free throw line watching Eric Bledsoe with the ball coming off the pick, which led to the open pass. Also, notice that Booker set up three feet back of the three-point line — this is a trend a lot of teams and good shooters are following (watch a Rockets’ game) because it makes the closeout harder. Rose would have contested a shot at the arc, but Booker gets a clean look from where he spotted up, and drills it.
Carmelo Anthony got a shot to win it for the Knicks, but his rimmed out.