Your Denver Nuggets have delivered eight dazzling wins in a row, none more incredible than the one last night. They positively manhandled the Chicago Bulls who hold the same position in the East as the Nuggets do in the West. Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Kenneth Faried looked like the best trio in the NBA if for just one night. Even the TNT studio crew could not help but fawn over Denver. For fans it might have been the most enjoyable win since the Carmelo era. Hell, even JaVale McGee played like a freak of nature.
Now the rubber hits the road.
Within the next week the Nuggets will face Cavs, Celtics, Raptors and Nets, all in their arenas. Whether the Blue and Yellow can win more of these next four contests than they lose will say a lot about what the outlook is for their season moving forward.
Golden State and Memphis are currently in the rear view mirror, but not far back there. Either or both of those clubs could easily close the gap. Or the Nuggets could widen the distance and begin to close in on the Clippers and the three seed. That would be positively huge for Denver. They higher they climb in the seeding the longer they put off a clash with Oklahoma City, who most folks agree will dismantle the Nuggets in a playoff series.
It seems somewhat odd in such a long season to place a great deal of importance on the outcome of four games, but it really does feel like these upcoming tilts will say a lot about who the Nuggets really are. If they are to win at least three of them, and head into the All-Star break with a record of 35 wins and 19 losses, how can they not be considered very serious contenders to make it to the Conference Finals? On the other hand, if they return to their early-season habits of using the road as excuse for failure, and they wind up losing three out of four, how can they not be considered a team most likely to be eliminated early?
It’s disconcerting that George Karl has already made comments in the media complaining about the long road trip. He doesn’t like that the league’s schedulers seemingly set the Nuggets up for a pre-All-Star fall. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, it’s Karl himself setting them up for a fall. His lack of confidence in his team’s ability to buckle down and earn wins under less-than-ideal circumstances continues to be a pox on the team. Hopefully there is enough leadership in Denver’s locker room to overlook Karl’s doubt and go out and prove something.
Personally, I believe that the Nuggets will win three out of four. They’ll lose to the Celtics in the second game of a back-to-back but return to Denver having snapped up the other three games. The future looks very bright, ladies and gentlemen, and it will look even brighter one week from now.