In only one season, 2009, the Nuggets advanced out of the first round. That year, led by Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets made the Western Conference Finals, where they lost in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers. Besides that season, it has been one and done for George Karl‘s bunch.The Denver Nuggets have made the NBA playoffs for 10 straight seasons, but success has not been easy to come by.
The Denver Nuggets are different this season. They broke their NBA-franchise record for wins in a season and with a victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, April 17, they will clinch the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The team has already secured home-court advantage in the first round and the Nuggets are 37-3 at the Pepsi Center.
If the Nuggets lose in the first round of the NBA playoffs it will be a disappointment. This team is different than all the teams before it.
Team leaders (per game)
Points: Ty Lawson, 16.7
Rebounds: Kenneth Faried, 9.2
Assists: Ty Lawson, 6.9
Steals: Andre Iguodala, 1.7
Blocks: JaVale McGee, 2.0
Emotional leader: Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala has emerged more and more as a leader as the season has gone on. Iguodala has turned it up on the offensive end after struggling most of the season. He has averaged 17.8 points a game in the last five, which is five points higher than his average all season. His play-making ability has become stronger in the last five games as well. He is averaging 9.2 assists a game in that span.
His talents on the defensive end is the key to the NBA playoffs. No matter who the Nuggets match up with in the first round. their top scorer will get a heavy dose of Iguodala. The Nuggets have struggled in the playoffs before because their defense was not up to par. With Iguodala on the court it will be better than it ever has.
Player to watch: Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson is the motor that makes the run-and-gun Nuggets go. When he missed time with a heel injury the team was not the same. He looks close to healthy now as he played 38 minutes in Monday, April 15′s win over the Bucks. He scored 26 points and hit the game-winner to help the Nuggets clinch homecourt in the NBA playoffs.
If Lawson is at the top of his game, the Nuggets are going to be tough to beat. His quickness causes matchup problems and he has become more and more of clutch player this season. Clutch players have to excel in the NBA playoffs.
Lawson played well against the Lakers last season but this year will be his chance to shine and so the NBA that he is set to become a superstar.
The Nuggets’ opponent in the NBA playoffs will not be determined until the final game of the season. They still have a chance to play the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets. The toughest matchup of the three is the Grizzlies. Memphis presents a tough defense that can beat up teams. That is not the Nuggets’ style.
The Nuggets would not have as tough of time with the Warriors or the Rockets. The Nuggets handled both during the regular season.
Whoever the Nuggets match up with they should beat. This Nuggets teams has bigger goals and a first-round loss would be unacceptable even with the recent injuries. The Nuggets will beat the Grizzlies in seven and both the Rockets and Warriors in five.
After getting past the first round, the Nuggets could play the No. 2 seed San Antonio Spurs. The Nuggets would give them everything they could handle and eventually lose in seven.