The Denver Nuggets started the season on a promising note but after a tough overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, they have lost 10 of their last 13 games. Even before Gallinari went down with the ankle injury, the Nuggets had lost four of their last five. So the question has to be asked: Are the Nuggets in trouble?
In short, no. Worry not, Denver fans! Despite this recent nosedive, as long as Gallinari and Nene are healthy for the playoffs, your team should be just fine once the postseason rolls around. Although the Nuggets have slid into the 9th spot in the West with the loss, as long as this injury-ridden team keeps the losses to a minimum over the next few games, things should start looking up once their leading man Gallinari takes the court again. And here’s an encouraging stat: of the Nuggets’ last 10 losses, six of them have been by 8 points or less. The Nuggets are still staying competitive for the most part, they just need to start picking up the W’s in close situations again.
Unfortunately, this may be easier said than done. The Nuggets’ next six games include the surging Timberwolves, Clippers, Trailblazers, Rockets and two meetings with the Spurs, the NBA’s hottest team at the moment. If the Nuggets can get half of those games, Gallinari and Nene should be back right as Denver’s schedule eases up a little bit (Kings, Cavs, Hornets and Grizzlies). These softer games will allow Denver’s injured stars to get back into rhythm before taking on the Hawks, Thunder, Celtics and Mavs.
The Nuggets have been highly competitive in the West for years thanks to George Karl, an extremely supportive fan base, and a style of play that revolves around team basketball. After the major Carmelo/Chauncey Billups trade that left the Nuggets with nine players for their next game, the Denver Nuggets were resilient. After George Karl was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemotherapy and came back the next season to coach his team, the Denver Nuggets were resilient. In the hardest times, this team displays one of their most endearing traits that fans have come to love them for: their heart and effort almost every time they take the floor. Despite not having Gallinari and Nene on the floor, the Nuggets still almost pulled out a win on the road against a great OKC squad (on a night that saw Durant eclipse 50, Westbrook drop 40, and Serge Ibaka record a triple double).
Denver has come up a bit short in these past few games. But with guards like Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo leading the team in their stars’ absence, along with role players like Andre Miller, Al Harrington, Kosta Koufos, Chris Andersen, and Corey Brewer, Denver should have no problem regrouping once they’re at full strength again.