Homestead Highlights as the Denver Nuggets Dominate in the Mile High
The Nuggets recently completed a successful 3-1 homestand, but what did we learn from those four games?
The Denver Nuggets won’t experience many long homestands during the 2016-17 NBA season. In fact, the team’s four-game homestand they just completed from November 16-22 is tied for the longest stretch of home games this season. The Nuggets will also play four straight at home from March 4-10.
On the flip side, Denver has already experienced one five-game road trip and still has a six-game road trip (December 3-12) and another five-game road trip (March 28 – April 5) to look forward to later in the season.
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So as the the team went 3-1 over this favorable stretch of home games, what did we learn? What led to the team success? Who stood out from an individual standpoint? Let’s take a look at each of those questions in a bit of detail.
Who Did the Denver Nuggets Beat During Their Homestand?
By any measure, winning 75 percent of your games over a stretch of games is a success. If you do that over the course of a season, you win more than 60 games and are probably the top seed in your conference.
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But broken down to a four-game stretch, there are still questions to ask. Should the team have gone 4-0? Were they lucky to even get one win?
As the Nuggets approached this homestand, I thought that 2-2 would be acceptable and 3-1 would be huge.
The game that the Nuggets had to win was their first game against Phoenix. The Suns are cellar dwellers in the Western Conference, and a loss would have been disastrous. Denver, however, took care of business convincingly by beating the Suns 120-104 behind a 28-point performance from Wilson Chandler.
After beating a team they should have, the real tests stood in their way. The Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, and Chicago Bulls are all teams that will probably make the playoffs this season. The Nuggets were favored against the Jazz but were home underdogs against the Raptors and Bulls.
The Nuggets pushed the Raptors to overtime, but Toronto, who is one of the best three teams in the East, prevailed in the end behind 30 from DeMar DeRozan. This game was in reach, but a loss to a quality team like the Raptors isn’t demoralizing.
Dominating the Suns was necessary, and going 2-1 against playoff-bound teams was a great step to the Nuggets contending for the eight spot in the West.
What Led to the Home Success?
As a team, the Denver Nuggets shot the ball well during this four game home stretch. The Nuggets 46.7 percent from the field, which was a decent increase over their season field goal percentage (43.0 percent).
That increased shooting percentage helped the Nuggets score 111.5 points per game. Again, that was a vast increase from their 104.7 points per game season average.
On the defensive end, the Nuggets have been giving up 107.0 points per game on the year. During the four-game homestand, though, Denver allowed just 103.8 points per game.
Which Individuals Excelled?
Several guys contributed in big ways, but Emmanuel Mudiay, Wilson Chandler, and Jamal Murray certainly excelled.
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Any conversation regarding Mudiay’s production this year starts with how he is taking care of the basketball. For the season, Mudiay is averaging 3.9 assists per game and a almost identical 3.6 turnovers per game.
During this stretch, though, Mudiay averaged 6.5 assists per game and only turned the ball over 1.8 times per game (26 assists to only seven turnovers). Considering his struggles in this area, a 3.7 assist-to-turnover ratio is one that the Denver Nuggets will live with and is a sign of growth.
Chandler was great from a scoring perspective. He’s averaging 16.7 points a game this year, but he bumped that number to 21.5 points per game over the four games. Chandler also drilled 50 percent of his 3-pointers, going 8-for-16 from deep.
And on the topic of long-range shooting, Murray was sensational. Murray, who is only averaging 9.9 points per game this year, averaged 14.0 points per game and shot 60 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-15). The rookie failed to hit a three against the Raptors, but he hit three each against the Suns, Jazz, and Bulls. He also added 18 total points against the Jazz and had career highs in both points (24) and rebounds (6) against the Bulls.
Moving forward, the Nuggets should be able to take highlights from this homestand and predict what will lead to future success this season. Mudiay will have to continue to take care of the ball. Chandler will need to be an efficient scorer. And if Murray stays hot from beyond the arc, Denver should be able to stay in contention with teams who are destined to make the playoffs this season.
They may even be able to sneak into the playoffs themselves.
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