With the Denver Nuggets on a collision course with the NBA playoffs, it’s become fashionable to come up with tweaks to improve the roster.
The Denver Nuggets are all but assured the second seed in the NBA’s western conference, despite a slowdown in March. They are currently a game-and-a-half up on the Houston Rockets with five to play and a game in hand (Houston has just four games remaining).
Denver should win four of the five remaining games with the Jazz in Salt Lake the toughest remaining game on the schedule. Win against San Antonio on Wednesday at home and take both games from Portland on the weekend home-and-home and the second seed should be locked up.
We can debate the merits of seeding and playoff pictures but at the end of the day, Denver will have to face whoever is in front of them and build their playoff resume from there. Sure, I might rather play the Thunder (who we own) in the first round than the Jazz (who we do not) but those aren’t choices given to anyone save the players on the floor.
The Nuggets should have beaten the Washington Wizards. They didn’t, though and each ripple in the timeline slightly alters Denver’s path. We know they’ll have home court in the first round of the playoffs, barring an unprecedented collapse, and that’s about it.
The Nuggets are not shooting well. They are playing solid defense and they are moving the ball well on the offensive end but the shooting is becoming harder and harder to overcome. It’s not just three-point shooting, either (where the Nuggets are just 14-for-66 over the last two losses). Denver has shot just 37.6% from the field in the previous two games. It’s a slump but it’s not outrageous, top-tier playoff teams are all struggling through the slog of late-regular season NBA action.
That’s created a narrative among fans and blog sites that there needs to be a focal point to the Nuggets struggles. As it’s been all season, the downturn has to be somebody’s fault. Isaiah Thomas can’t serve as that whipping boy since he hasn’t been in the rotation. Similar for Juan Hernangomez, Thomas Welsh, Brandon Goodwin, Tyler Lydon and Michael Porter Jr. Those players are insulated because they don’t play. Everyone else is subject to scrutiny in the fans eyes, though Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris seem to get a pass.
It’s exhausting trying to keep Nuggets fans from the edge of the cliff, though their confidence issues can hardly be criticized given Denver’s history. There are three guys that have taken a lot of heat lately, for different reasons, that deserve a reprieve: