Jan 25, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson (10) reacts after shooting a three point basket during the first half against the Indiana Pacers at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: Are Playoffs Possible Without Nate Robinson?

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Another week goes by in the NBA, and the Denver Nuggets take another serious blow to their team.

Nate Robinson is out for the rest of the season after undergoing ACL surgery on Friday. The Denver Nuggets lost their best bench player and only backup point guard with the injury.

Jan 29, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson (10) reacts after suffering an apparent injury during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Publicly head coach Brian Shaw thinks the team can still complete.

“I still think we have enough to win games,” Shaw said.

Privately Brian Shaw has to be concerned. His Nuggets are already 3.5 games out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference standings and losing your fifth-leading scorer and all-around “energy guy” doesn’t improve our outlook.

Sigh … these Nuggets just can’t catch a break in their way this season. This swing could be the final knockout punch for the Nuggets, a team looking to make the playoffs for the 11th season in a row.

Robinson was just starting to hit his stride this year too. His best month in a Nuggets uniform was in January, averaging 10.9 points, 3.0 assists and was great shooting from the field with a 47.1 percent field goal percentage to go along with 40.4 3-point percentage.

Robinson also was a player you could rely on to hit a big shot late in the game. He was HUGE in the Nuggets best win this season over Golden State, finishing with a team-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Often times, Nate was the player that was the difference in beating good teams and losing to them. He could push the Nuggets over the top.

Sigh … I’m gonna miss putback dunks from the little guy like this.

The Nuggets need to have a great second half to make the playoffs in the West. That conference is unforgiving if you don’t put together wins and without Robinson, it’s hard to argue this Nuggets team is better or more deserving than Dallas, Memphis, Phoenix and Minnesota–the teams directly ahead of them.

In order to string together wins, the Nuggets simply have to find someone to match Robinson’s production. So, who is it going to be?

The Nuggets can’t ask Ty Lawson to do much more. He’s already has the team’s highest player efficiency rating at 20.1 and is playing 36 minutes a game. The LAST thing we need to do is overwork him to a serious injury.

Without Lawson or Robinson playing on Friday night. we got a look of who Shaw is going to look at to step up. In the 10-point loss, Randy Foye played 43 minutes and Evan Fournier played 39.

The new backcourt duo looked like they could replace Robinson’s production, but fell short without Lawson. Foye finished with a game-high 16 assists and knocked in 10 points. Fournier continued his exciting January with 18 points and 6 rebounds … HOPE! Despite the combined 15 turnovers (Lawson can fix that), the duo showed the Nuggets still have a dark-horse shot at the playoffs.

Fournier is going have to continue to break out this season for it to happen, but as I wrote before the increased minutes for him and fellow sophomore Quincy Miller are a benefit to the Nuggets even if he can’t get the Nuggets into the playoffs. The best thing the Nuggets can do this season is develop their youngest players in order to usher in a new era of a balanced, talented Nuggets team.

Randy Foye is done developing, but we’re going to need scoring from the starting shooting guard in order to replace Robinson. He’s shown the ability to help the Nuggets win like his 33-point, seven-assist game against the Bobcats, but he followed it up with only 10 points against Toronto on 1-of-6 3-point shooting. The Nuggets need something in the middle and on a consistent basis.

Also the Nuggets NEED TO STOP LOSING AT HOME. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY LONGER. If they take a few more losses to teams like Charlotte at home, then the playoff streak is as good as gone.

Losing Nate Robinson is a big obstacle to an already uphill battle for the Nuggets to make the playoffs, but it’s not impossible. If the Nuggets can win at home, and get consistent play out of Foye and Fournier, then this race will go right down to the last games in April.

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Tags: Brian Shaw Denver Nuggets Evan Fournier Nate Robinson Quincy Miller Randy Foye Ty Lawson

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