History seems to love to remember a certain place and time, reminisce, and ultimately repeat itself. With a game left before the All- Star break it may be a bit premature to lock the Denver Nuggets into the 8th seed but if they do indeed land in that spot, this reminiscing could start to churn in the mind.
Referring to,of course, the 1994 NBA playoffs where the unthinkable was accomplished – 8 over 1. The first time ever. George Karl’s Nuggets defeated the powerhouse favorite top seed in the West- Seattle Supersonics. The image all Nuggets fans have burned into their heads is Hall Of Famer Dikembe Mutumbo on the floor embracing the basketball in pure joy.
On a record-breaking evening last night, the Nuggets ran the number one seed Warriors out of Denver plain and simple. Threes were raining from all area codes. Could this be a foreshadowing of things to come?
Look, we all know that The Warriors are unlike any animal the NBA has ever seen. Last year winning 73 games. Add arguably the 2nd best player on the planet and you have a lethal 4-headed monster likely not to lose 3 or 4 games in a series to anyone. The Avengers would have a tough time with this squad.
The Nuggets were without 5 key players in the W yesterday evening (Mudiay, Gallo, Chandler, Faried, Arthur) and still rolled. In fact they only had 9 available players. Yes, nine. One can say the Warriors who just came off an emotional win in OKC Saturday may have “taken a game off”, didn’t properly prepare for this depleted squad, or plain and simply were gassed from the altitude. All of which may be true, but shouldn’t take away the shooting clinic these young and short-handed Nuggets gave this Mile High City crowd.
A promising future indeed, the Nuggets, who just added passing big man Mason Plumlee to their rotation, seem to have their eyes set on that final Western Conference playoff spot. But just how much of a realistic threat can the Nuggets be to the Dubs?
Let’s start with rising, up and out from under the radar star Nikola Jokic. His last three games look like this:
2/10 @NYK 40, 9 & 5
2/11 @CLE 27 & 13
2/13 GSW 17, 21 & 12
It wasn’t a fluke that Jokic can and has put up All-Star caliber numbers for a while. Racking up 21 rebounds against Golden State is also no fluke. The Dubs lost two key big men, Andrew Bogut and Maurice Speights, in acquiring KD. Dominating the boards is one way to limit them. Add a Mason Plumlee to relieve the Joker off the bench, who has also shown capabilities of passing and rebounding, sounds like a pretty good 1-2 punch to take on the one of very few weak spots in the Warriors game.
Jokic is not the only up and comer flying under the radar. Rookies Jamal Murray and Juancho Hermangomez, who may have had their coming out party last night can be a vital part of the Nuggets identity. Hopefully sooner rather than later but if last night was any indication, Denver is starting to see what kind of team they can become.
The final key to posing a serious threat to the Golden State Warriors come playoff time may be sophomore backup PG Emmanuel Mudiay. Recently injured and benched, he has had a lot of time to study veteran Jameer Nelson. There has been some concern over the year on Mudiay’s game, but let’s remember the point guard position takes time. His style of play, however, can control the tempo of the game. As long as he can be a floor general and not turn the ball over the Nuggets can be successful.
With the trade deadline approaching the Nuggets may still listen to some trade offers for veterans on the roster, only time will tell. The pieces of this team are not fully in place but there are some promising combinations of lineups that can indeed compete with the Golden State’s of the world.
We can all daydream about what would be the most unlikely upset in NBA history, but the idea may not be as far-fetched as some may think. It has been done before and as stacked the odds may be this year, as Kevin Garnett famously proclaimed, “Anything is possible!”