Denver’s attempt to out-Showtime LA led to 19 Nuggets turnovers.
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One observation is that the Denver team seemed to be feeling their 4-0 record and accolades coming from National sources like Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller. Spin moves and crossovers from Nikola Jokic, a deep pull-up from Jamal Murray. Paul Millsap rim-checking himself. There were a few times that the smart play would have given Denver separation in a very winnable game.
I understand, coming off of the four season-opening wins, specifically the Golden State win, Denver had to feel like the quasi-rival Lakers and LeBron were a stage where they could break out, offensively. Not only wasn’t that the place, the Nuggets weren’t ready. The shots aren’t yet falling like we’d expected and Denver has made their way with outstanding defensive performances.
That’s where the Nuggets need to live against the Pelicans, it’s why we selected the Paul Millsap-Julius Randle matchup as the one to watch for the game. Denver needs to bolster it’s defensive identity on the home court and Millsap is the leader of that effort.
Nobody is afraid that Denver won’t score this year. The offense will come, everyone knows that. It’s too bad Will Barton‘s injury came at such a crucial developmental time for Denver. Before his injury, he was the steady catalyst for Denver’s offense. Barton has a knack for hitting shots when nobody else can get theirs to fall. It is sorely missed and further supports Denver’s need to ratchet up the defensive pressure.
Stay inside themselves, stay with what got them to 4-0, this is the challenge with a young team, getting them to keep the throttle where it needs to be, not jam it to the stops when things are going well. Basketball is such a mental game, and that mental discipline is the difference in this year’s team. We saw it against Golden State but missed it against Los Angeles. That’s a good trade-off but we’d like to get to a place where we aren’t missing it at all.