Denver Nuggets: 3 Keys to Recovering Their Mojo

Denver Nuggets (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Playoff officiating is what it is.

Every team, every player their first time in the NBA playoffs has to be a little shocked at the officiating. Not that it’s better or worse, good or bad it is just different. Games tend to be more physical, with officials allowing much more contact than in the regular season.

Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets /

Denver Nuggets

It’s also less star-driven than in the regular season.  Whether the idea of a superstar call is a reality or all in our heads, there’s a definite shift come playoff time and that impacts players like James Harden and Stephen Curry significantly.  Now, players of that caliber don’t bat an eye and find a way to success despite the difference in how they are officiated.

That’s where the Nuggets historical perception that they get no respect, no whistle from the NBA can actually be an advantage to the young, up-and-coming Nuggets.  They haven’t gotten calls all season.  Not since Carmelo Anthony was jab-stepping all over Pepsi Center have they even approached a referee-favored status.

This isn’t a knock on officiating or at least this isn’t completely a knock on officiating, it’s a plea for the Nuggets to realize that this is how it is going to be, that Gregg Popovich is a master at massaging NBA officials.

If you watch a broadcast that doesn’t cut to commercial, it stays with the arena feed during timeouts and breaks in play.  Pop uses that time each and every time to have conversations with the refs. We are not privy to the content of those conversations but knowing what we do of Popovich, it’s assumed that they are manifestos on missed calls.

The Nuggets had 24 free throw attempts on Saturday to the Spurs 20.  That’s as good as you can hope for, to have more attempts than your opponent. Denver made just 16 of those 24 attempts. There was no discernible officiating imbalance and that’s a good thing against the mighty Spurs.

It’s up to the young Nuggets to continue to keep their frustrations to a minimum and there’s no reason to believe that they will not but many before them and even this squad has been susceptible to the palms-up, incredulous display for the referee while the play moves down the court.  They are human and will need to resist the temptation to fall into the trap of blaming officiating or imbalance for their struggles.

Did we mention they didn’t shoot the ball very well?