The Denver Nuggets entered the 2009-2010 NBA regular season with championship level expectations, although it seems as of late that the Nuggets should've picked the option of just getting into the playoffs and making a playoff push, not a Finals push.
The energy level that the Nuggets have been bringing to their games as of late has been laughable. Just ask Carmelo who was on the sidelines with Kenyon Martin laughing about something. It's a direct reflection on their intensity as well.
It seems that the Nuggets don't really care about being the team that most people thought would upset Los Angeles. It seems like they don't really care about going onto the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history.
However, it is kind of hard to live up to those expectations as the Lakers looked sluggish in all four games against the Nuggets this year, and recently as well.
From what it looks like to me, and I'm pretty sure every other basketball fan, that the Nuggets think they can turn their basketball switch on, the way they do their bathroom light when they enter the bathroom: automatically.
Basketball is not game that has a switch. You either are in rhythm, or you're not.
The Nuggets have been either giving up leads or find themselves trailing in the past couple of games. The only dominant performance that came from the Nuggets was this Monday against the Grizzlies.
As a direct quote from TNT's Kevin Harlen,
"The barometer for this Nuggets team is the 20 assists."
This is a mark that they have only hit twice in their last five games, and they won both of those games.
Now even a Hermit could argue that all of this inconsistency and lack of focus could be because of the fact of their head coach, George Karl, is currently fighting cancer and is not with them, and that the Nuggets were missing Kenyon Martin for about 18 games, and also lost Ty Lawson for a little while.
But the thing that strikes me is that the Nuggets came out last night with Kenyon Martin, their defensive QB in the lineup, and didn't show up.
He usually is the enforcer, the guy who brings the intensity up when he's on the court, but it seemed like the Nuggets were playing without him last night (he did not play the second half due to the Nuggets wanting to be precocious).
George Karl is not the yelly jumpy type of guy, and it's usually Kenyon Martin who does the inspiration talk.
The defense was not there, and their offence was too much of as Amar'e said, isolation with Carmelo Anthony. Melo had 29 points on 28 shot attempts, and only got to the line twice.
Yes, maybe all this inconsistent play is because of all the injuries, but look how the Blazers have been doing all year long. A direct quote from fellow Nugget writer Rich Kurtzman, "...injuries to fill a hospital wing, they are still competitive." Nuggets seem anything but competitive, or focused.
The point here is that the Nuggets need to step it up as LeBron says it in those marvelous NBA commercials. Lets hope the whomping last night in Phoenix was a wake up call.
The playoffs start Saturday, and their destiny lies in the hands of the Phoenix Suns, or the Utah Jazz.