I didn’t write a column from that Nuggets game. I went with my dad, as a fan, with a beer. I remember leaving Pepsi Center thinking two things:
Despite the score, the Nuggets toyed with the Pacers. Those teams aren’t close.
Indiana’s the second-best team in the East? Boy, the Heat have it good.
Fast forward to the NBA playoffs. The Nuggets were played out in the first round. The Pacers were still playing in Game 7 of their conference finals.
Was the Pacers’ extended stay in the playoffs a result of Eastern Conference mediocrity? That was a major factor, yes. Were the Pacers better-suited for playoff basketball than the Nuggets? That, too.
So if you’re searching for an example of what the Nuggets are trying to do — and here’s something else they should do — just look at their head-to-head with the Pacers from last season. Then we’re able to see why the Nuggets overhauled their operation this offseason.
The Nuggets played spectacular hoops during the regular season. The Pacers played longer in the playoffs.
So the Nuggets hired a guy, former Pacers aide Brian Shaw, whose focus has been building toward playoff success, not regular-season success. Will it work? Dunno yet. But that’s what they’re doing.