- Teams: Detroit Pistons (25-41) at Denver Nuggets (30-37)
- Date: March 18, 2014
- Time: 9:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Denver Nuggets are no longer the team that George Karl coached to 57 wins last season.
That team featured a top-five offense predicated on seemingly flawless offensive execution despite a lack of shooters. Indeed, Denver simply ran play after play on the same possession and stretched defensive rotations to the maximum.
The end result was a lot of forays to the hoop, and when those failed, they attacked the basket for second-chance opportunities. Still, Karl’s Nuggets were an interesting team from the standpoint that they did not adhere to the evolution of the game.
Basketball has become a game of spacing, timing and cohesion. No longer is it sufficient to have the best players, strategies and ideologies are just as important.
And yet, the Nuggets were built around slashing players and big men, coupled with a lighting fast point guard in Ty Lawson. Under Karl, the Nuggets ran some plays that consistently produced high-percentage looks despite the fact they really could not adequately stretch the floor.
Karl has since been replaced by Brian Shaw, and Denver has had some issues in his first year as a head coach in the league. The offense tends to stagnate, and players regularly embrace the challenge of playing one-on-one basketball to the detriment of teammates.
What’s more, gone are the beautiful plays that consistently compromised defenses. That’s not necessarily a death sentence, but Denver is a team of finishers, and they need the table set for them.
Without the benefit of sets that create advantageous matchups whereby players catch the ball in movement heading to the rim, the Denver highflyers are left to their own devices to score. Needless to say, that formula has been less than stellar as evidenced by the fact the Nuggets have a bottom-third offense this season.
Granted, Shaw has lost quality players to either injuries, trades or poor behavior. Danilo Gallinari has not played this season, while JaVale McGee and Nate Robinson have appeared in a combined 49 games.
Andre Miller had some issues with the coaching staff, which resulted in some time away from the team before he was eventually traded to the Washington Wizards.
Nonetheless, the Nuggets should be feared, especially when playing at home. They recently dispatched a red hot Los Angeles Clippers team as well the Miami Heat. They even collected a victory against the Indiana Pacers earlier this year.
Again, the Nuggets have athletes, and if opponents get into a track meet with them, they have the potential to run teams off the court. It will be interesting to see how the Detroit Pistons approach the contest.
Detroit typically crashes the boards and gets a multitude of chances to score off them. That could be enough to slow down the Nuggets and force them into playing in the half court where they struggle. On the other hand, if the Pistons are unsuccessful on the glass and still send guys there, they might spend the game watching Denver score in transition.