February 19, 2013
DENVER — For those new to the Nuggets party, this might come as a news flash worthy of an all-caps tweet.
For those well versed in the Nuggets B.C. — Before Carmelo — it is simply preaching to the choir.
Either way, it is worth noting: These are really, really good days for the Denver Nuggets.
These are NBA days not seen before in these parts.
The Nuggets opened their post-All-Star-break push with a 97-90 win against the Celtics at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.
Unless Ty Lawson takes up bobsledding and Danilo Gallinari moves back to Italy, Denver will march on and reach the playoffs for the 10th straight season.
That will be a franchise record. See, never seen before.
Once again, the Nuggets are not aiming for a playoff berth; the Nuggets have their sights set on home-court advantage in the playoffs. Denver entered Tuesday 1.5 games out of the No. 4 seed.
In Denver, a playoff berth is assumed. Here, I'll say it: A playoff berth is taken for granted.
"I think you want to stay focused in on trying to get the 4 (seed),” coach George Karl said Monday after their practice. “If the Clippers stump their toe, be ready to get the 3 (seed).
"Try to get the highest seed you possibly can.”
In Denver, the basketball team talks about playoff seeding, not just making the playoffs.
But doesn't it seem like the Nuggets are too often described in a negative light? We focus on what’s wrong with them more often than what is right. And there is so much right.
A franchise that for years wandered through NBA no-man’s land — as in, no man wanted to play here — has been a model of NBA consistency.
To me, that is worth noting.
The Nuggets are one of three teams to reach the playoffs in each of the past nine seasons. The Spurs are another. The Mavericks are another. After this season, that list probably will be trimmed to two; Dallas sits in the 11th spot in the Western Conference.
There is the rub, of course. In that span, both the Spurs and Mavericks won NBA titles.
The Nuggets have not.
But I think the all-or-nothing mentality misses the big picture. That’s like saying Gene Keady or John Chaney wasn’t a quality coach because he never guided Purdue or Temple to a Final Four. When you are not the Celtics or the Lakers, context is necessary.
I'm not saying we should lower expectations; this season the Nuggets are gifted enough to earn home-court advantage and win a playoff series. Anything else is biscuits and gravy.
I am saying Denver’s NBA consistency shouldn’t go underappreciated. For almost a decade B.C., the Nuggets were an afterthought, a two-foot gimme against the NBA elite. During that stretch, the Nuggets were the Clippers when the Clippers were the Clippers.
I can’t be the only one who remembers when Chauncey Billups, as the prep prodigy at George Washington, seemed to be a bigger draw than the Nuggets.
And it was not that long ago — 10 years — when Denver won 17 games, total. (These Nuggets won 12 this January.) Since that dreadful season, the Nuggets haven’t missed the playoffs.
In the past eight seasons, the Nuggets haven’t finished below second in the Northwest. In the previous eight seasons, the Nuggets never finished above fifth in the Midwest.
"If we keep playing together and playing well, the 3 seed is definitely a possibility,” Lawson said.
Agreed, Ty. With 15 of their 27 remaining games at home, the Nuggets have a great shot at the No. 3 seed. The new Clippers are not out of reach.
These Nuggets are on pace for another 50-win season, their fifth in sixth years. These Nuggets are relevant — and have been for a decade, no small feat.
It started with the arrival of Anthony and didn’t stop when Melo was traded.
“We’ve played well this year, especially in January, but I don’t think we’ve peaked,” Andre Iguodala said.
These are the good days for the Nuggets, all over again.
That is worth noting, right?
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