The Denver Nuggets took down the Los Angeles Lakers 119-108 Monday night in a high-flying, high-altitude contest in which they showcased every single reason why they are one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference.
If Kenneth Faried wasn't absolutely dogging on the glass, you had Ty Lawson zig-zagging in and out of the lane, Andre Miller using his old man game to control the tempo, Andre Iguodala reminding us all that he's still one of the fastest guys in the league, and JaVale McGee showing the glorious, terrific basketball side of his Jekyll-and-Hyde personality.
As Denver starts out every game, especially at home, there's a glimmer of hope from the opposition that the Nuggets will be a bit sluggish, a bit tired or a bit banged up from their last game. Minutes later that dream dies, and they find themselves either sprinting nonstop or watching over their shoulder as the Nuggets gallop past.
Denver's style of play is torture if you're a fan of the other team. The Nuggets don't consistently lock down on defense, so when they are ahead they usually let their opponent back in the game.
That's all a ruse. As soon as their opponent is within striking distance, they're out running again, reeling off a 14-4 run and absolutely killing not just the momentum but also the resolve of their opponent.
There comes a certain Schadenfreude if you're watching as a bystander with no real desire to see either team come out on top.
The Nuggets continually allow the faintest glimmer of hope, slamming the door at just the right time to continue the 48 minutes of torture they're subjecting their opponents to. To put it simply, it's just delightful.
With the fast-break style they play, there will be a ton of dunks, some crafty footwork to get past a last defender and an exploding crowd. So even the most casual of NBA fans can find something they appreciate in this bunch.
However, it's not even the highlight plays that really get you going when watching this team—it's the little things they do that makes them so much fun.
Whether it's Faried slapping the rebound out of a defender's hand to reset the possession or Miller somehow coming out of a double-team with a wide-open Wilson Chandler in the corner, you'll find yourself having the most guttural of reactions.
No team will force stranger, more questionable noises out of the depths of your diaphragm quite like the Nuggets.
People tend to say that the basics of basketball aren't fun. That's why the San Antonio Spurs were given such a bad rap for so many years thanks to their stripped-down, defensive-heavy approach to the game.
Watching the Nuggets is the opposite end of the spectrum, though you will still see them perform a lot of the basic feats necessary to win basketball games.
Faried's offensive rebounding is a prime example. The exception is that instead of playing the bounce off the rim perfectly and securing the ball, he plays the man playing the bounce and wrestles the ball away from him.
The Nuggets aggressively box out, move the ball around the perimeter with the smoothest of passes, drop down entry passes into wild men, and they run, run, and then run a little bit more.
Whether or not this style of play is going to lend itself to a championship for Denver in the near future is still very much up for debate, but it does lend itself to some of the most fun, entertaining and effective basketball the league has seen in years.