Remember how the Utah game was a MUST MUST MUST WIN? Well, this is the same thing. The Nuggets are in the 8th spot right now, one game ahead of the 9th place Suns. Winning would mean tying them in the standings. Winning would mean a lot, especially coming back to a very tough Lakers game in Phoenix tomorrow. This win is a must for the standings, for the season series and for morale. And given how the team responded to the last must win, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went after Denver guns blazing.
Now, the Nuggets are shorthanded, missing their best player, Danilo Ganillari. And while the Suns have been dealing pretty well with the lack of Grant Hill, the Nuggets had trouble in this last stretch, particularly since trading away Nene to the Wizards to acquire JaVale McGee. And, as we’ve witnessed in the game in Phoenix, JaVale McGee is a very particular player, and while he’s usually hit or miss, it seems that he’s more miss this time ’round.
But the addition of McGee, in all it’s awkwardness doesn’t take away from the depth of the Nuggets. Not only do they have a player that (not without reason) is called the Manimal in Kenneth Faried, but they also have a China export-import in Wilson Chandler, veteran point Andre Miller and a bunch of young, minute hungry role players ready to contribute at any time. Add to that the backcourt of Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo, and suddenly this team is dangerous.
In their last meeting, the Nuggets wiped the floor with the Suns, and no surprise there. The Suns were without Grant Hill and Steve Nash who were getting, if you will, DND-OLDs of their own on the middle game of back-to-back-to-back, Denver came with force, and the Suns didn’t have an answer. This time around, however, the Suns are better in nearly every facet of the game. The bench has stepped up in Utah, and will have to do so again, facing another strong unit in Colorado. Channing Frye hopefully hits some threes (and hopefully, without needing miracles), Jared Dudley will have to be a steady contributor.
The Suns may move into great position to rush into the playoff seeds for the first time in a long while. It would be wise to use it.