The absence of a legitimate superstar will prove to be this team's downfall in their quest for the ever-elusive NBA title.
Tonight's game in San Antonio provided a glimpse into the future. Without putting too much into one game, Denver was held to one field goal in the final four minutes. Trailing by one with 11 seconds left, the final shot was an Andre Miller missed jumper resulting in a narrow defeat.
The proof is there. San Antonio had battle-tested veterans with NBA Finals experience to go to down the stretch. For Denver, Corey Brewer has a ring from riding the bench during the Dallas Mavericks' triumph in 2011. Other than that, no one on the team has made it past the second round of the playoffs, so it is holding them to too high of a standard to expect a whole lot more than that this season.
Philadelphia felt confident moving on without Andre Iguodala because they had never threatened to win a title after building the team around him for years. He is not a building block. Iguodala is simply a phenomenal piece to a championship contender. He is a great piece, but cannot be the focal point.
Through all the success they have had, the question marks surrounding them will not go away. If they find themselves in a low-scoring game in the 80s rather than the 110s, can they lock a team up and get big defensive stops when they need them? Can anyone step up down the stretch so that another incident like the one in San Antonio does not happen?
Head coach George Karl has shown a propensity for trusting his point guard most of all in close games. Ty Lawson has proven to be clutch so far in his short career. He has hit his fair share of huge late-game shots, and is even comfortable enough to throw in a celebratory Bernie right on cue. If anyone on this team is going to be the go-to guy down the stretch, it will be Lawson because he is the only player on this roster who can consistently create his own shot.
Though his dance moves may be as clutch as they come, can Lawson deliver like this consistently?
Stats-wise, there are some startling numbers concerning Lawson. So far in three games against San Antonio this year, Lawson has averaged nine points and four assists per game. In four games against the Memphis Grizzlies, he averages 8.3 points per game and three assists. Worst of all, Lawson averages seven points per game against Miami and is shooting under 33 percent against all three of these powerhouse teams. He fares slightly better against the Oklahoma City Thunder at just over 12 points per game.
If their go-to player down the stretch has consistently shown that he struggles when facing superior competition, it does not bode well at all for Denver. They need someone they can rely on every time in big games, and they simply do not have it.
If Denver continues to perfect their craft of "superstar-by-committee," maybe they will surprise us all and run rampant through the postseason. It would bring joy to an NBA fan's heart because it would mean much more parity to the league, but the odds are stacked a mile high against them.
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