George Karl delivered a strong regular season coaching performance for the Denver Nuggets this season.
Then he – and the Nuggets – stumbled to their usual first-round exit. This has been the norm since 2003. The Nuggets make the playoffs. The Nuggets say goodbye to the season after the first round. The only exception came in 2009 when the Nuggets traveled to the Western Conference Finals.
And should have traveled even further.
Karl tweeted today about the good karma he was experiencing on the streets of Denver, but there was always something wrong with his karma in the playoffs.
The Nuggets rolled into this season’s first round as clear favorites against the Golden State Warriors. Karl was clearly outcoached by Mark Jackson, and it was painful to watch. Please don’t say anything about Danilo Gallinari’s injury. The Warriors were playing without David Lee, a vastly superior player to Gallinari. The Warriors played a fierce style of basketball. The Nuggets played scared.
And some – no, make that much – of the blame must be placed on Karl’s shoulders.
It was time to wave goodbye. Karl had taken four straight first-round exits from the playoffs. The Nuggets need to become more ambitious, and a superb first step would be hiring Lionel Hollins, who just led a hungry, properly violent Memphis Grizzlies team to the Western Conference Finals.
I’ll miss King George. He was a tremendous interview, one of the best in the game, and he did strong work. But that strong work always seem to fizzle during the playoffs.