There are no excuses, but the Nuggets are simply overmatched
Sometimes, the other guys are just better. Through the first two games of this Nuggets-Warriors series, this is painfully obvious. You can try and convince yourself this all about lousy officiating and poor coaching, but you would be missing the glaring point: Golden State is just better.
Stan Van Gundy on the TNT broadcast said it perfectly. In his opinion, the Nuggets “have fewer weapons than any of the 16 NBA playoff teams.” He’s 100 percent right.
All year, the Nuggets have been an overachieving team where the sum is greater than the individual parts. In the playoffs, when everyone is playing hard, what matters is talent. The Nuggets just don’t have enough.
Other observations from the Game 2 beatdown:
• Any chance the Nuggets had of pulling off an upset centered around the possibility Steph Curry wouldn’t be close to his old self. Yeah, about that. He was brilliant. He looks fresh. He’s energized. The game just instantly changed the times he came in off the bench.
• Allow the basketball fan in me to take a moment and marvel at the way the Warriors play. The moving without the basketball. The cutting. The passing. The shooting. The unselfishness. Man, when they have it humming like that, it’s amazing to watch. These Golden State teams put out the patent on playing this way and it took them to five straight NBA Finals and three championships. This group clearly has some of that old DNA in them.
• I understand the Nuggets frustration that boiled over several times in this game. What a helpless feeling knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop them when they start buzzing around like that. The Nuggets bigs are too slow and their guards and wings aren’t athletic enough. Add in the freewheeling fun and showboating of the Warriors players and the obnoxiousness of Draymond Green, along with the party atmosphere inside the arena, and frustration boiling over makes perfect sense.
• It was not a good night for Nikola Jokic. I get the anger over not getting a fair whistle. But throwing the arms around and slamming the ball down and complaining after every call and finally getting ejected is a bad look. Yes, he’s going to win back-to-back MVPs, but games like these only serve to give ammo to his legion of critics who insist he’s a faux MVP. Add in Charles Barkley going on at halftime and ripping Joker for not being able to do more against the 6-foot-6 Green in the post and you understand why, even with two MVPs on his resume, this is someone who still doesn’t have the respect of NBA officials. That is something that has to change moving forward next season when the Nuggets expect to be able to compete for the Western Conference Finals.
• Want to blame Michael Malone? I guess you can, although I have absolutely no idea what he was supposed to do differently to dramatically change that game. You all watched it. What would you do? The “do something, anything” crowd out there is on blast here. I’ll throw the challenge out there. What is Malone missing that you think is an obvious answer through the first two games. I’ll wait.
• These first two games were bad. But now the Nuggets come home. Maybe Golden State doesn’t play with the reckless abandon they feed off so well. Maybe some of those ridiculous contested threes bang off the rim. Maybe Nuggets players like Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Will Barton and Jeff Green, who played so scared on the road, regain some of their swagger in front of the Nuggets faithful. Maybe the Ball Arena crowd unloads on Draymond Green with such vitriol he loses some of that cockiness.
• I know. That’s a lot of “maybes.” That’s all I got right now. Ball don’t lie. And right now the Nuggets look overmatched.