D.R.: Nuggets get one game
The test begins now. The Nuggets pulled of their game one upset of the San Antonio Spurs. Congratulations. But this has happened before. Denver won the first game of the best of seven, then dropped the next four, including a game two blowout, to these same Spurs.
The Nuggets then did not have Allen Iverson, the deciding factor Sunday night. They didn’t have Nene playing like this, either. Carmelo Anthony is two years wiser and wilier. And the defense. Where did that come from? The Nuggets look like they’ve learned to play some.
It could be a mirage. The Spurs might well get on track, make a couple of adjustments, and grind the Nuggets to dust. They remain a team that could go all the way, even if they didn’t look like it Sunday.
The name of the game now is adjustments. You know San Antonio will plot news ways to contain Anthony and Iverson. You also know that their big three ” Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Genobili ” will not keep missing shots as they did in game one. You know Bruce Bowen will not always get in foul trouble.
Still, there’s a lot of room for hope on the Denver team. They played quicker and harder in this game. They ground it out, made the plays down the stretch of the game, which was thought to be San Antonio’s strength. The Nuggets played the stifling defense that was thought to be San Antonio’s strength.
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Anthony and Iverson carried the Nuggets on offense, with a little help from Nene. That won’t happen every game.
The personnel key for the Nuggets will be that short bench: Edguardo Najera, Linus Kleiza and especially J.R. Smith. I think they combined for 3 or 6 points Sunday; not enough. Kleiza and Smith played nervous. Denver will need those two to hit some 3s before this is over, and maybe even more so, play good solid defense while giving the starters a break. Najera was at his disruptive usual, so no worries there.
Strategically, coach George Karl and his staff have their biggest challenge: Pull off a second win on the other fellas’ court. They need to counter whatever San Antonio comes up with and keep their young team stepping quicker and playing harder.
This can indeed be done. But the veterans who form the core of San Antonio’s championship team haven’t aged so much that they can’t turn the tables on the upstarts, either.
Iverson remains the key.