One of the drawbacks of making blogging your living is that you do a lot of writing at the end of most nights.
For some people thatâ€™s not a bad thing at all. And itâ€™s not necessarily a bad thing for me. At least it wasnâ€™t until my fiancÃ© discovered the Real Housewives of (Fill In The Blank) television series on Bravo. Now, once a week I finish my night of watching basketball games only to turn the remote over to my lady as she takes her turn with the TiVo. The thing that turns on almost immediately is The Real Housewives of New York or The Real Housewives of Orange County or The Real Housewives of Odessa or whatever the hell the latest one is.
From watching this TV programming gem while I commence my nightly writing, Iâ€™ve found that I understand teams like the Denver Nuggets a lot better than I ever would have. While basketball is about skill and athleticism and a basic understanding of how the game is and should be played there is also a very human element to the NBA that has to be recognized. Weâ€™ve seen it in many forms. Weâ€™ve seen Maurice Cheeks sidle up to a young lady who has forgotten the words to our national anthem and help walk her through the rest of the song. Weâ€™ve also watched Stephen Jackson go chasing after Ron Artest into the Pistonsâ€™ stands to not stop him from committing a crime but to make sure he commits it correctly.
The personalities and the human aspect of life matter just as much in basketball as they do in the crappy television world of housewives in front of a camera filming â€œreality.â€ When you put five egotistical, power-hungry, driven women in front of a camera and ask them to ham it up a bit for their audience, youâ€™re going to come across some problems. Theyâ€™re going to get catty and start to come apart at the seams, much like their botched plastic surgery. They canâ€™t help themselves and once it gets to that point of complete unraveling, there is no way for them to recover and get back to the decency or somewhat respectful nature that got them to this point in their â€œcareers.â€
This same pattern of psyche was one of the main reasons I didnâ€™t trust the Denver Nuggets to take care of business four times in a seven-game series against a Utah Jazz team that Iâ€™ve tried not to fall in love with. The Denver Nuggets have a bunch of strong personalities.
Carmelo Anthony is the star of the show who will have the crap promoted out of him during the duration of this show. Chauncey Billups is the older person that could just as easily justify the same attention for himself that Melo is getting if he were just a bit sexier. JR Smith is the crazy one that is so unpredictable that you almost have to sit on the edge of your seat when heâ€™s on the court or at a fashion show. Kenyon Martin is the old, hard persona that could be the nicest person in the world or the most conniving with he feels heâ€™s been crossed. And Chris Andersen is just the kooky, free spirit who will wow you with the accessories (mustache, hair, tattoos) as much as with his ability to completely ruin any given show.
When things are going extremely well, itâ€™s a hype machine that sells advertising and makes you crave the after show in which the brilliance and step-by-step entertainment of the show is explained with everybody sitting around, enjoying a cocktail or two. But when things fall apart, you can almost tell that nothing is going to fix the tailspin that has begun.
When the Jazz took control of Game Two and escaped from Denver with a three-point victory, the Nuggets appeared to be shell-shocked. Not only were they the Denver Nuggets but they were also facing a Jazz team that was without two of their core players. And yet, they couldnâ€™t hold serve at home and now had to go into a hostile environment without the advantage of a 2-0 series lead.
The first quarter of Game Three between these two teams was complete smoke and mirrors. The Jazz played horribly enough to be down 15 points after the first 12 minutes while the Nuggets used free throws and a ton of rebounds to counter a horrible shooting quarter by everybody not named Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. By the time the Jazz got settled in, the Nuggets were in no position to survive on lucky bounces and poor execution.
The Jazz went old school with their offense by running a ton of set plays and executing them to near perfection. The Nuggets on the other hand tried to play one-on-one despite the fact that there were 10 guys on the floor. The Jazz ran an offense while the Nuggets players isolated themselves on an island.
This affinity for isolation was one of the things that worried me coming into this series. The Nuggets have the players that can absolutely destroy their opponents one-on-one. Chauncey Billups is able to veteranize most opponents into scoring opportunities for himself. JR Smith is able to go dumb with hot shooting and oozing bravado. Nene can devour opposing centers with a single move towards the basket. And Carmelo Anthony doesnâ€™t have Fans From Utah cheering him on because heâ€™s so good at making the extra pass. He makes the money by throwing an array of offensive ninja stars at his opponents once he faces up.
But throw a little controversy and a bunch of Utah rebounds, free throws and scoring runs at this Denver team and they donâ€™t seem to know how to come back as a team. Theyâ€™re my individuals with no conceptual understanding of a team comeback. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a selfish thing either. Itâ€™s just not something that Adrian Dantley can tie together with these guys.
The Jazz completely dominated the second half both basketball-wise and with mental toughness. They had four separate runs of 8-0, 8-0, 7-0 and 9-0 over a period of 15 minutes and 22 seconds of game clock. They outrebounded the Nuggets 24-15 while holding them to under 40% from the field. The Jazz utilized every weapon and play in their arsenal to take a 2-1 series lead while the Nuggets just sat around waiting for someone else to step up and carry the show.
In the crucial third quarter, the Denver Nuggets had one assist in the entire 12 minutes of play. Everyone tried to be the individual star of the show and didnâ€™t realize they were part of an ensemble that was the reason for the entire show. It was this Real Housewives mentality that kept them from competing in this game.
This Denver team has been missing something all season long. For a while, I thought it was just another big man to bang with the big title contenders. But it looks to be much deeper than that. Theyâ€™re missing a glue guy. Maybe that glue guy is actually George Karl or maybe it was Linas Kleiza. Whomever it was, youâ€™ve now comprised a team of a bunch of characters and personalities that seem more worried about book deals, product sponsorships and spin-off programming when you really need a group of people who should be worried about being picked up for another season.