NBA Playoffs 2013: Setting Expectations for the Denver Nuggets in Game 2

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NBA Playoffs 2013: Setting Expectations for the Denver Nuggets in Game 2
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Nuggets fans will be expecting a more inspired game from their hometown team on Tuesday night

While the Denver Nuggets escaped their NBA playoffs opener against the Golden State Warriors, it certainly wasn't pretty.

Their half-court offense was abysmal, their free-throw shooting was as lackluster as usual and they trailed for much of the second half on their home court.

Surely Nuggets fans will be hoping for a more inspiring performance in Game 2 from their hometown team. After Tuesday night, the next two contests will take place in Oakland, at what is sure to be a rocking Oracle Arena.

With Warriors big man David Lee out for the series after he tore his right hip flexor in the series opener (h/t Yahoo! News), and Kenneth Faried expecting to return to the Nuggets rotation for Game 2, Denver is primed to take control of this series.

Let's take a look at what Nuggets fans should expect from their squad in Game 2.

 

Three-Point Shooting

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
With Danilo Gallinari out, the Nuggets need Wilson Chandler to help space the floor by knocking down shots from the outside

Game 1 was an embarrassment for the Nuggets from three-point land.

The team shot just 18.8 percent from downtown, with starters Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler combining to shoot 0-of-7 from long range.

While the Nuggets weren't exactly world-beaters from beyond the arc during the regular season (they shot just over 34 percent), they should still be able to hit more threes in Game 2.

Wilson Chandler will be the key to Denver draining more of its three-point attempts on Tuesday night. After all, it was Chandler who was on quite a hot streak heading into the postseason (he shot 50.9 percent from the field and 45 percent from long range in April).

If Chandler can can knock down around 40 percent of his three-point attempts, it will help the Nuggets on the scoreboard, as well as space the floor. With Danilo Gallinari out for the year, Chandler's ability to hit those deep jumpers is that much more important.

 

Transition Game

Another area of Denver's game that wasn't as effective as usual on Saturday afternoon was its transition game.

Lauded for being a team that can push the pace and score in bunches after forcing turnovers, the Nuggets only managed to score 15 fast-break points despite forcing 17 Golden State turnovers.

In fact, at one point during the first half, Golden State went over 15 minutes without turning the ball over, and the result was a stagnant Denver offense.

Denver's inability to play an effective half-court offensive scheme was evident in the first half of Game 1 and led to the Warriors leading by four at the half.

For Denver to succeed, it must be able to speed up the pace of the game. Going seven possessions without scoring a field goal multiple times is just not acceptable in the NBA playoffs.

Expect the team to be more aggressive in attempting to control the pace of the action Tuesday night.

 

Ty Lawson

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Nuggets need their point man to help the team be more efficient at both ends in Game Two

While Ty Lawson is just a few games back from injury, the way he ended the 2013 regular season points to his Game 1 struggles being unrelated to his foot injury.

Scoring just 12 points in 39 minutes—and being a minus-eight during that time—isn't the kind of production Denver is looking for from its starting point guard.

By comparison, even though Wilson Chandler struggled offensively in the opener, he was a plus-10 during his time on the court, while Andre Iguodala was a plus-11 (both played at least 36 minutes).

With Lawson being as dominant as he was against the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns during his minutes in the final two regular season games, he is more than capable of having a major impact on Tuesday night's tilt.

On offense, Lawson needs to cut into the lane more and either draw some contact and a foul, or kick out to find one of the Nuggets' perimeter shooters for an open look.

Defensively, Ty needs to clamp down on Stephen Curry and force him to struggle as he did in the first half on Saturday. Denver can't afford to be a net minus-eight when its best player is on the floor. That is not a recipe conducive to postseason success.

 

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