Denver Nuggets Look to the Western Conference Playoffs

landis claytonContributor IMarch 13, 2009

With 16 games left, the Denver Nuggets' 2009 NBA season is on the verge of disaster.

The month of March has been terrible for the Nuggets, who have given control over the competitive Northwest Division to the Utah Jazz.

A three-or-four-game skid in April could spiral this team into oblivion and tarnish the Nuggets' chance of remaining in the playoff picture.

So, for the sake of Nuggets fans, let's "assume" that the Denver Nuggets are in the Western Conference Playoffs. I am not going to give them a place in the playoffs because finding a seed for Denver in the amazingly even Western Conference makes my head hurt.

All I know is this:

The most-disastrous scenario for this team would be facing the first place L.A. Lakers in the first round. I do believe in this team, but the chances of beating the 2009 L.A. Lakers in the first round are slim to none.

So, Nuggets, please do not secure the eighth spot in the West.

Another disaster would be facing the San Antonio Spurs, and it has nothing to do with the Spurs' ability to beat Denver. I just do not like everything that comes with playing the darling team of the NBA.

It is no secret that NBA officials adore the Spurs—and frankly, I just do not feel like putting up with the stress caused by the Nuggets potentially losing to the senior-citizen Spurs.

So, for my sake Nuggets, the seventh seed is no good either. 

Now that I have stated the obvious, let's dig into this can of worms and see if we cannot find the magical scenario that boosts the Denver Nuggets deep into the playoffs.

The logical playoff scenario to me comes by way of playing the Portland Trail Blazers.

They are young and inexperienced, and they lack the Nuggets' depth. This would be a series that the Denver Nuggets could definitely win.

Another matchup that could prove to be beneficial to the Nuggets would be playing the Houston Rockets. Keep in mind that playing the Rockets during the regular season has not gone well for the Nuggets, but the playoff experience of the two teams is comparable, and I believe the Nuggets can pull out a seven-game series with them.

One more team to beat would be the now red-hot Hornets of New Orleans. This would be a tough matchup for the Nuggets and would be very similar to playing the Utah Jazz. I do believe that the Nuggets and the Hornets are similar in style of play, but to win this matchup, Denver would need to hold Chris Paul to about 15 points and 10 assists per game, which is easier said than done. 

Paul is the key to the Hornets' success, and without him, the Hornets would flop.

Utah is similar to the Hornets in the sense that Derron Williams controls that team and facilitates the offense. Containing him would mean double teaming him on drives and keying on their outside shooters. 

New Orleans and Utah would be tough, tough matchups, and to beat those teams, the Nuggets must be smarter in their offensive approach. 

The recipe for success strictly looking at the Denver Nuggets comes down to these three things:


1. Carmelo Anthony needs to be playing every second of every game. This superstar needs to be on the court at all times even when the team is up by 20 in the first half—which, if you have not noticed, happens regularly. Notice how many minutes LeBron James and Dwayne Wade play, and also notice their production in playing 38 to 40 minutes per game.

Your kidding yourself if you do not believe that Anthony can be as productive as his Team USA counterparts.


2. Defensively, the Nuggets need to communicate. Defense is played by a team, not an individual. When the Nuggets play well offensively, it is because they are getting fast-break points, which is a tribute to playing good team defense.


3. Nene needs to be an absolute monster on offense. The Nuggets need him to score at least 17 points per game in the postseason. It is on him to establish his post presence on a game-by-game basis.  


I think it is safe to say that Denver will make the 2009 Western Conference Playoffs.

But, does this team have the talent to be productive in the postseason?  Absolutely.

Can they be disciplined?

Can they play like a playoff team?

Yet to be seen.

April will be the month that decides the fate of the Rich and Creamies. Win at all costs.