Thursday, May 7, 2009

Those Sweet Nugs

Time for yet another analysis-free post on the sudden playoff domination of the Denver Nuggets, currently holding a 2-0 series lead on a baffled group of Mavericks that's already whining and making excuses.

It's hard to get my head wrapped around this team. Used to be that a good regular season--which by itself hasn't happened too often, honestly--was followed by a quick first-round beatdown. Usually by the Spurs and Balki, but also by the Lakers and, embarassingly, Clippers. God that Clips series sucked.

But this year, 50 + wins have proved to actually mean something; unlike, say, what that number meant to last season's 50 win team, which couldn't have been more dysfunctional if it featured the brothers from Oasis at both guard positions and more inflexible in crunch time if it had been coached by a boxing nun puppet.

The difference? You know what's coming. But follow down below anyway. It's what the cool kids are doing.

That's right. The number on reason that the Nuggets have marble-mouthed drunk Charles Barkley picking them to win the NBA title: the pride of George Washington High School, the King of Park Hill, Denver's new No. 7. The Chauncey.

I'm obviously not the first person to write that--by my rough estimation, that's actually somewhere around the 149,367th time this year that someone's ascribed the Nugs' revitalization to Billups--but shit, it's the truth. In retrospect, how crazy was that trade? I love AI as a player but he and Carmelo couldn't co-exist basketball-wise. Both guys need the ball to be successful, and Melo was never going to learn to take a step back for the betterment of the team as a whole when he was constantly worried about getting touches. AI, unfortunately, has that effect. Because as good as he is, and he's one of the most amazing athletes I've ever watched--no matter what Jason Whitlock says--he sucks the life out of his teammates because they never see the rock.

*Also, quick aside: Whitlock is busy hammering Will Leitch at realclearsports via The Big Lead. I'm no big fan of Leitch's, but nearly every one of those criticisms could be just as easily turned around and applied to his barbecue-stained self. And his bagging of Selena Roberts is hilarious. What the hell does Whitlock know about real journalism? He's been writing the same misoygnistic, single-note column for 15 years and has expended no discernible effort in doing so. He's a sideshow, chattering teeth.

The Chauncey's arrival has done more for Carmelo's game than any coach has, but more importantly, it's destroyed the sense of fatalism that has been surrounding this team. Now, a 50 win season carries with it the promise of something actually interesting happening after. Like a Finals appearance.