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Nuggets finish the season… strong

April 18th, 2007 by aswitzer

As the 2006-2007 season draws to a rapid close, I am very happy, satisfied, and proud of the way the Denver Nuggets have handled their business. I definitely could not make that statement last season.

Last year, we had a nearly identical record with 44 wins and 38 losses. (A loss on Wednesday in San Antonio would actually give us that very same record) The key though, was that we limped into the playoffs – losers of four straight, and going 3-6 in April. We clinched the Division title and then Coach Karl and the players “shut it down” to avoid injuries and rest up for the pending playoff series with 4 games remaining on the schedule. Here’s how it played out:

Sun 2 at Dallas L 79-103 41-33 Anthony 25 Evans 5
Martin 5
Miller 3
Martin 3
Tue 4 at LA Clippers L 109-111 41-34 Anthony 24 Evans 8 Miller 12
Thu 6 LA Lakers W 110-108 OT 42-34 Anthony 33 Elson 11
Camby 11
Evans 11
Miller 7
Sat 8 Golden State W 95-92 43-34 Anthony 28 Camby 17 Buckner 8
Mon 10 at Portland W 110-98 44-34 Anthony 28 Camby 13 Miller 9
Wed 12 at Utah L 83-104 44-35 Anthony 18 Elson 7
Evans 7
Miller 8
Sat 15 Sacramento L 82-100 44-36 Patterson 20 Camby 17 Eisley 4
Mon 17 Houston L 83-86 44-37 Anthony 22 Evans 12 Miller 7
Wed 19 at Seattle L 98-109 44-38 Johnson 22 Evans 15 Eisley 8

The win in Portland was the last “serious” game and then the Nuggets starters received fairly limited minutes in the final four games. I remember them being very strange games at the time. I’m well aware of the concept of sitting your starters for the final few games when a team is “locked” into a playoff spot. Coach Karl and the Nuggets seemed to be stuck somewhere in between in those final games. They’d sit one starter, play the rest, and try to win, but each game ended in a loss and a blow to the psyche. The approach truly backfired, because we never “started it back up” against the Los Angeles Clippers in our first round matchup, and we bowed out after 5 games for the third season in a row – winning one home game.

Fast forward to this season with a near perfect April record of 9-1 with only one game to go. This final game will definitely be one of those “sitting your starters” games, but it will be played that way on both sides, so the game should be equal, other than the fact that its in San Antonio. Our subs against San Antonio’s subs – nothing to be gained, but a game to be played for pride and psyche heading into the playoffs all the same. Some of the guys playing tonight will be called upon to play a major role or two at some point in the playoffs – guys like Kleiza, JR Smith, and Najera. The difference this year is that even after we got locked into the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoffs, we still played to win. The most impressive victory was the one in New Orleans last Friday. In an emotionally charged, final game in Oklahoma, the Nuggets came back from a double digit deficit late in the 4th to steal the win. A win that didn’t change anything in the final standings of the season, but did give the Nuggets another boost of confidence and kept their late season momentum strong.

April was the month that saved the Nuggets season. Regardless of what happens tonight – going 10-1 (or 9-2) for the month against some of their toughest competition all year helped solidify the fact that Melo and AI are can do great things on the basketball court together. It helped show the NBA that when the Nuggets play defense with heart and effort, they are a team to be reckoned with.

I commend Coach Karl and all of the Nuggets players for learning from last season, and approaching this season’s final games with a different philosophy and more professionalism. I truly believe it will pay off big time when the Playoffs finally arrive this weekend.

Update: The Nuggets subs won the game in San Antonio handily – 100-77, further solidifying the fact that they had a different approach this year. In doing so, they set a franchise record for their best ever record in April. Reggie Evans had a career night with 19 points and 20 rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

2 Responses to “Nuggets finish the season… strong”

  1. Wavatar carmelosbigestfan Says:

    that was finominal by melo thats great

  2. Wavatar Dimis Says:

    nuggets now with iverson, melo, martin, camby and smith will have a great season at 2007-2008

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