Charles Barkley can rant about Denver being inferior to San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston or even Utah in the West, but the Nuggets are at least placing doubt in that belief.
The Nuggets put a 70-spot on the Suns at the Pepsi Center, en route to a 131-107 blowout victory as a 2-point home underdog last Saturday. Cynics may say it was St. Patty’s Day and all that green had something to do with the outcome. Handicappers like us would beg to differ.
The Allen Iverson experiment is working. A.I. and Carmelo Anthony have been able to share the basketball and profit in both scoring, assists and victories. The Nuggets have won four in a row and, more importantly, each one covered the Vegas spread.
The streak began at Sacramento, where the Nuggets won by 12 as a 3-point dog. Denver then handled Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers, with only the 8-point result against the young Blazers being less than a double-digit victory. Denver is now above .500 at 33-31, though nine full games behind Utah in the division.
Coach George Karl has done a great job in exercising uncommon patience with the Nuggets through another series of injuries that seems to be joined at the hip with this franchise. Mention potato chips and up pop photos of Marcus Camby, Anthony, and Nene.
Now all are relatively healthy at the same time and the present starting five Karl now has at his disposal is as good as any in the league. Even, if Sir Charles may differ.
Anthony is averaging just under 30 points per game, while Iverson is close behind at 26.5 and a team high 7.5 assists. Steve Blake has fit in well at both the point and shooting guard role alongside A.I. Camby averages a double-double (11.3 pts, 11.6 rebounds) and an impressive 3.2 blocks.
Nene, Eduardo Najera and a surprising Linas Kleiza are contributing points and bulk on the boards. All this with current major injuries to Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith. If these chips manage not to crack, Denver may have a lot to say with how the playoffs turn out in the West.
The Nuggets were actually a better buy at Caesars Palace to win the NBA title this past week (25/1) than the previous one (18/1). The schedule has Denver traveling to New Jersey on Tuesday, continuing on to Chicago on Thursday and heading to Toronto on Friday for the second of a back-to-back grinder. The Nuggets then face Lebron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Sunday.
A murderous schedule, to say the least, but if Denver comes away with at least two wins, things could be looking good for the rest of the regular season