It’s hard to put a finger on who really made the difference for the Denver Nuggets as they won their first game of the season. Maybe it was the fact that they finally got to play in front of their home crowd, in their new Canaries-yellow jerseys. Maybe it was just Andre Iguodala finally doing what he was brought over for – Defense, an unknown word and discipline recently for the Nuggets.
Before you get all excited about the first win (109-97), these are the Pistons. One of only two remaining teams in the NBA, along with the Washington Wizards, that are win-less, and a Pistons team that is 0-4 while scoring less than 100 points in each of those losses, only the second time in franchise history. So a little perspective. But….
A team like the Nuggets feeds on energy. There’s a lot of talent on this team, but they play together, as a unit. Don’t defend as a unit, play fast offensively as a unit. George Karl is still going with Kosta Koufos as his opening center, and this time got more than usual from the Greek international (despite being American-born), scoring 14 points. Yes, the Detroit Piston, with Greg Monroe and a lot of size in their “bigs” positions can hardly defend, allowing the Nuggets 56 points in the paint.
And more terrible defending…
JaVale McGee is a curios case. He’s certainly not your orthodox guy, just from watching his behavior around the twittersphere. But as a player, I think it was proven last postseason that his presence on the court, as he (hopefully) is trying to add to his offensive game, gives the Nuggets the best chance to win. Not just because of what he gives on defense, but his motivation and energy.
Andre Iguodala is taking his time. Somewhat of an enigma during his years at Philadelphia. Amazing during some moments, awfully disappointing the next. He feeds of energy and high tempo, off his defense and off of his teammates. He’s the new guy in a very well tuned Denver Nuggets offense, taking his time to fit in. The last two games have been much better, averaging 19.5 points after a slow start.
But Iguodala is meant to be the guy that brings this team together on defense.
He was a presence everywhere, on every part of the court. He’s great for us when he plays like that. He’s not going to shake the boat. He’s going to figure out how we like to play, and figure out what’s a good shot and what’s not a good shot.
For the first time this season, it looked like the Nuggets had an idea of what they should be doing on that end. They did concede less against the 76ers, but that was a scrapfest, where Philadelphia wanted the game to go. The Nuggets are a running team, and they’re going to give up a lot of points. With Iguodala, they have a chance to be much more shielded in their transition defense; a lot less vulnerable. Again, these were the Pistons, but it also might be a step in the right direction.