Strength in numbers boosts Denver
Five thoughts on Sunday's playoff games, conjured while watching our planet's climate change faster and more frequently than the lead in that Atlanta-Miami series:
In Denver's 109-95 (
Now, it's not uncommon for coaches to shorten up their rotations in the postseason. Except that wasn't the case and it sure didn't work that way for Denver. Smith,
Smith was basically a push with Terry, with 15 points, three boards, six assists, two steals and a block. Carter had 12 points, three rebounds and four assists and Andersen provided the illustrated shocker, with 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and six blocked shots, helping the Nuggets to an 11-2 edge in blocks. Right there, that explains the difference in field-goal attempts; sure, Dallas got off 82 to Denver's 73, but those extra nine were all swatted right back at them.
Denver's superior depth is the main reason it will grind down and outlast the Mavericks in six games or less. The bench was a huge part of the Nuggets' 35-point second quarter, and these numbers are even gaudier:
From all the attention Billups gets now as the prodigal Rocky Mountain son returning home -- in case you didn't know by now, he was born and raised in Denver, attended the University of Colorado and is the only local hero to ever play for the Nuggets -- you'd think the franchise had been angling to acquire him since he hit the NBA in the 1997 draft. Wrong, mile-high breath. The Nuggets had Billups once before, getting him from Toronto just before the 1999 lockout season, then lumping him for salary-matching purposes into a deal with Orlando not quite 13 months later.
Billups, after being dumped by both Boston and the Raptors before his second NBA season, was making progress in the lockout year (13.9 ppg). But he wasn't a point guard yet (38.9 field-goal shooting and 2.18 turnovers to 3.8 assists), certainly not new coach
Just don't forget those first 58 games with the Nuggets, a decade ago now, that get lost in the footage of Billups' flat-top haircut from George Washington High. In Denver, of course.
Nope. The Heat scored just seven more points -- on three Wade jump shots, one a three-pointer. No free throws at all. No forcing of the action. No more Atlanta fouls, or foul trouble, period. Wade and his team looked completely out of gas.
It leaves me wondering whether