Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets
7:30 p.m. PST
March 17, 2014
1. Did Timofey Mozgov have Blake Griffin-induced nightmares Sunday night?
Jordan White, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@JordanSWhite): INT. Timofey Mozgov’s bedroom at night time. It’s a cool 40 degrees outside, but Mozgov has the air conditioning all the way up and all the windows open. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t stop sweating. His bed – the firmest mattress on the planet, for what else would he sleep on – may as well be a water bed. He tosses and turns in his sleep as the images race through his mind: he’s jumping straight up, arms extended to their fullest as a crimson object hurtles towards him. Just before the object can come crashing down, on him and the court, he wakes and screams.
Charlie Yao, Roundball Mining Company, (@skitalicious): It’s telling that after four years, that singular dunk still defines Timofey Mozgov in the NBA. The 27 year-old got a nice payday last summer based on potential, but we’ve yet to see much of that realized this season. Mozgov is still a decent defensive big, but his continued struggles with basics, like catching the ball, have once again seen him relegated to a bit role as somewhat of a sideshow. Since becoming the starting center, Denver’s gone just 4-10, and Mozgov has seen his shooting plummet to 43 percent in his last 10 games.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): This Sunday night? Or every Sunday night for the past few years? Including the other six days of the week? Does it even count as a nightmare if it’s just a string of unmediated flashbacks? Can someone really cross your mind if they never left in the first place? TL;DR: Yes.
2. Why don’t the Nuggets dominate at home like they have in the past?
White: Denver’s home advantage stemmed from a perfect synthesis of style and atmosphere – the higher elevation combined with the team’s breakneck pace wore opponents down, usually by the third quarter. At the beginning of the season, the Nuggets didn’t run much, thus not taking full advantage of their surroundings. Later, just as they got back to running, Ty Lawson, the engine that drives Denver, missed time with various injuries, preventing the team from truly running. It also doesn’t help that the team really isn’t that good.
Yao: It has less to do with the firing of George Karl than the fact they’re just bad. After losing Iguodala, Karl, and Masai Ujiri (basically their whole identity as a franchise), the Nuggets put a bunch of newcomers in charge who failed to commit the team into any single direction. Instead, Denver signed a bunch of middling talent in an effort to toe the line between competing now and developing for the future. Much like any other bad team, they’re failing at both those goals while lacking an obvious path towards contention.
Sohi: Because they’re bad. Even with Lawson and the ensuing high-wire act, the Nuggets are discoordinated and at this point, disinterested. Sure, Denver has been better than average at home for the past decade or so but their dominance was underscored by playoff talent.
3. The Clippers have won 11 in a row. When does this winning streak come to an end?
White: I’m making a bold – and likely incorrect – prediction and saying it ends tonight. The Clippers are on the second game of a back-to-back, playing in Denver’s high altitude against the now-running Nuggets.
Yao: Tonight, the Nuggets are set to don the navy blue throwbacks and honor the 1994 team that pulled off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history. There should be some extra energy in the building and I’m betting on the Clippers facing a team that’s a little more motivated than your average lottery dweller. The Nuggets are quietly playing better as of late, having made a modest jump in the Hollinger Power Rankings from 28th to 23rd. That being said, the Clippers are number one in those rankings and it’s easy to see where this one’s going. Denver has virtually no shot at winning.
Sohi: Nostradamus prophesizes: If a lottery team doesn’t do the Clippers in by late-March, match ups against the Rockets and Suns await them on a five-game road swing. This has been a recounting of the Clippers upcoming schedule. They’ll probably lose one of those games.
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