Did You Hedge Your Bet on the Nuggets? 110-87 Winners Over the Mavericks

Dec 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets 117-107. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets 117-107. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets shot 50% from the field, to Dallas’ 42%.

They out-rebounded the Mavs 49 to 29, with 23 fast break points to 4 for Dallas, and got 50 points in the paint to Dallas’ 38. But it was the Nuggets defense that won the game, by hedging and trapping.

The Nuggets were without three starters: Emmanuel Mudiay, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried due to injuries and, Kenneth, for personal reasons.

They didn’t look like they were holding a very good hand.

But Coach Mike Malone had some cards up his sleeve. Youth and energy beat the odds, and beat the spread.

It was great defense; particularly, hedging and trapping. Stopping the outside shot and stopping penetration. Defense generated offense.

Finally! Coach Malone said he had been waiting for a game like this for a long time.

Hedging: “prevarication, circumventing, fudging.”

The Nuggets anticipated what the Mavs were going to do on their screen and rolls, went around the top, and the big man went out to the guard. Dallas had limited good shots, no lane, and no pass. End of game.

Wilson play 41 minutes in the win against Dallas. He wanted more playing time, and got it.

A bird in the hand is worth more than one in the bush. Maybe Wilson should stick around.

Hedging Your Bet

Hedging your bet: “to leave a means of retreat open.” So while the Nuggets perimeter defense was committed to being up on their man, they had the option to trap the ball or retreat.

Trapping the ball: “double-teaming the ball-handler and forcing him to make a quick decision.”

Good trapping defenses focus on following zones of the floor: along the baseline, along the sideline, in the corner of the offensive zone, against the half-court line, immediately after the point guard crosses it.

When do you hedge or trap? “Anticipate, do the work before the play happens.” … Scott Hastings.

The Nuggets line was -2.5 against the Mavs, largely because the game was at the Pepsi Center. The Mavs had won 4 of their last 6 road games, were coming off a 4 game winning streak, winning 7 of the last 10, including wins against Portland, Cleveland, and even San Antonio. So the Nuggets had to be ready.

And they were. Did you hedge your bet?

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks guard Yogi Ferrell (11) during the first quarter February 6, 2017 at Pepsi Center. John Leyba, The Denver Post

New Hand Wins! The Ace in the Hole.

The Nuggets turned in three cards and drew three.

So the hand was Jokic, Chandler, Nelson, and Harris who all played well. Did we miss anyone?

Oh, yeah. Will Barton! The Ace in the Hole!

“Whether it be an injury or a personal matter, that creates an opportunity for somebody else. I thought Will Barton tonight was fantastic. His scoring, his play-making, his rebounding; that is a complete basketball game, and I think he had some great possessions defending as well. … a lot of great contributions from many players.”

Barton’s line? 31 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds, 12-18 from the field (66.7%), 5-7 from three (71%), 2-2 from the line, 3 steals in 36.5 minutes. Anyone in the NBA match that hand Monday night?

“The depth of our roster allows us to put guys in”.  All those great face down cards, ready to be played. On any night the Nuggets can pull out that Ace.

Maybe coach Malone needs to remember that line. Murray, Hernangomez, Harris, Jokic, O’Bryant all played their roles and had good lines.

So Coach Malone held a good hand throughout. He substituted with knowledge and preparation.

Hold a good hand on the road coach. Know when to hold ‘um’ and when to fold ‘um. Play smart poker. And keep hedging.

Next up? Atlanta, Cleveland and New York on the road.

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