5 Hidden Advantages the Denver Nuggets Have in the Playoffs
With a record of 50-24, the Nuggets are the current third seed in the Western Conference and have locked up a postseason berth with eight games still remaining on their schedule.
The Nuggets are a legitimate championship team and have proved throughout the year that they can dominate opponents in multiple aspects of the game.
While their rebounding, points in the paint and transition offense will all play a huge role come playoff time, the Nuggets' hidden advantages could put them over the top.
Let's take a look at the hidden advantages the Nuggets will have in this year's playoffs.
Possess Ample Scorers
It's a proven fact that the Nuggets are one of the most explosive teams on offense, but what may be shocking is just how explosive they are.
Out of the 15 players listed on the Nuggets' roster, 13* of them have scored in double digits at least once this entire season. To add to this stat, 10** of these 13 players have posted totals of 19 or more points in at least one game. While one game is indeed a small sample size, this mentality and ability to score the basketball as a team should not be taken with a grain of salt.
The Nuggets and their management have assembled an offensive juggernaut that relies on scoring from a group of players rather than just a few. In any given game, Denver has the option of throwing different players out on the floor to either disrupt the opposition's game plan or counteract bad offensive performances.
With their arsenal of capable scorers, Denver will have the advantage of foiling their opposition's defensive strategies and will be a tough out for any team in this year's playoffs.
*Julyan Stone and Quincy Miller haven't scored in double digits
**Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph and Jordan Hamilton haven't scored 19-plus points.
Plethora of Big Men
The Nuggets won't be the only team in this year's playoffs with three centers, but they will be the only squad with three seven footers.
Kosta Koufos (7'0"), JaVale McGee (7'0") and Timofey Mozgov (7'1") provide the Nuggets with a serious height advantage unmatched by most teams in the league. While Koufos and McGee have held down both the starter and reserve roles this season, Mozgov could serve as decent replacement or backup if either of the two is sidelined by injury or foul trouble.
In games where Mozgov has played 20 or more minutes in the past two seasons, the 7'1" center has put up respectable averages of 8.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Mozgov is more than capable at the center position and is one of those players who can impact games by just taking up space.
Although it's unlikely that Mozgov will see meaningful minutes this postseason, having him stashed as a potential replacement is a huge advantage for the Nuggets.
If there is one thing more impressive than the Nuggets' overall record this season, it is their record against the 15 other playoff teams in the league.
In 38 games against postseason-bound teams this season, the Nuggets have gone a superb 26-12. Although Denver was unable to steal a game from the Miami Heat this year, the Nuggets were able to come away with at least one victory against the other 14 playoff-bound squads.
While the Nuggets did lose their season series against the Heat this season, they still have the opportunity of winning or tying the rest of their series matchups against playoff teams when they play the San Antonio Spurs* next week.
Though these wins against playoff-bound teams won't physically carry over into the postseason, they will provide the Nuggets with an advantage. As a young team at just an average age of 24.9 years old, the Nuggets will use this success over playoff teams this season as assurance in the year's postseason.
*San Antonio currently leads the season series (2-1)
As if the Nuggets needed an extra advantage on an already stellar home court, they receive one in the form of altitude.
Known as the "Mile High" City, Denver sits (obviously) a mile above sea level, making it a nightmare for any road team looking for a victory. Through 36 games this season at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets have been nearly invincible, as they have claimed 33 of the total games.
While altitude has been known to cause the athletes to tire out faster, it has only brought good things for the Nuggets. As an up-tempo team, the Nuggets have greatly benefited as they have been able to build up their conditioning levels in the thin air of Denver.
Although the Nuggets have failed to fully exploit this advantage on the road, going just 17-21, this advantage of training and playing in the lower oxygen levels of Denver cannot go unnoticed. With the weather being ideal for building up stamina and tough to adjust to for opponents, this hidden advantage of altitude will be huge in the postseason.
No Defined Superstar
If there is one team that has proved time and time again that a superstar isn't needed to be successful, it's the Denver Nuggets.
Throughout the season, the Nuggets have displayed a "team first" kind of mentality on offense, as they currently rank third in the league in assists per game with 24.2. As a direct outcome of their willingness to share the rock, nine players on the Nuggets' roster have put up averages of eight or more points per game.
While an argument could be made that having a superstar is vital to close out tight games, another could argue that having multiple options to go to is more of an ideal situation.
The fact that the Nuggets don't have that one defined superstar to go to at the end of the games makes this squad that much more unpredictable. With more than a handful of capable scorers on their roster, the Nuggets are not a team that can be stopped by using one simple strategy.
Assuming that Ty Lawson is able to recover in time for the postseason, expect the opposition to have their hands full trying to halt the balanced attack of the Nuggets.