Q&A: The Nugg Doctor

The Warriors might have lost to the Nuggets and didn't seem to have any answers for uber-scorers Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, but that doesn't mean Friday's game at home at the Roaracle wasn't a fun one to watch as a hype fan and humble student of the game. Well don't worry the fun don't stop as we trade questions and answers with Nick Sclafani of Denver Nuggets blog The Nugg Doctor in preparation for tonight's game in the Mile High City.

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You don't need a PhD in hoopsology to enjoy 244 point games!

Head on over to the Nugg Doctor to check out my thoughts on how the Warriors can drop more points on the Nuggets and defend them better as well as a little AI vs Monta comparison.

Then use your hops to check Nick's thoughts on how far the Nuggets can go in the Wild Wild West, how the AI-Melo tandem is working out, and the popularity of the Nuggets in Denver.

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Golden State of Mind: On paper the Denver Nuggets looked stacked with two superstars in Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby, a couple of nice big men with their own respective strengths in Nene Hilario, Kenyon Martin, and Eduardo Najera, plus a big time scoring threat off the bench in J.R. Smith. With the 3rd largest payroll in the league their management and ownership team seems to be committed to winning now and not tomorrow. How far can this team go this season without any roster changes? Are they capable of reaching the level of the Spurs, Suns, and Mavs? Could they beat any of these 3 teams in a playoff series this spring?

Nick Sclafani (The Nugg Doctor): Your answers to that three part question are, "Deep in the playoffs, yes, and definitely." The Nuggets still don't have any clue how good they are because, as usual, the injury situation seems to be a revolving door. As soon as Nene came back from a five-week lay-off from ligament surgery in his thumb Kenyon Martin goes down with a hamstring tweak. Chucky Atkins still isn't 100% after pulling his groin and Marcus Camby has been scaring the hell out of me when he hit's the deck. It's the same old story for the Nuggets, really, but this time there is, as you noted, a whole lot more bread on the line.

But...

Barring any further discombobulation from guys getting hurt, the Nuggets should be able to gel with enough time to give everyone their money's worth come playoff time. Portland is not going to continue to streak for much longer, although it has been a good run with a Nuggets loss in there, and I would be very surprised if the Nuggets do not win the Northwest Division and, finally, get into the second round or perhaps the Western Conference Finals.


Golden State of Mind:
At the time of last year's blockbuster Iverson trade many critics claimed that AI and Melo couldn't play well together. How has that worked out? Are there enough shots to go around and are both players happy with their offensive roles?

Nick Sclafani (The Nugg Doctor): You tell me, is there any other teams in the league that have two players in the top five, or even ten for that matter? These two guys are Denver's bread and butter and there's not a team in the league that wouldn't mind having as dynamic of a tandem. The only thing that concerns me is come playoff time who is going to be clear cut leader? Most great teams have fairly clear roles established so guys can play with a sense of team, but one thing's for sure; they are both going to score their points every night so offensively, there is no problem.


Golden State of Mind:
Denver isn't exactly a big market team or the most diverse place in the country. Soon after the AI trade I joked:

How in the name of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did this city luck into Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson? How in the name of Kiki Vandeweghe do the only two fellas sporting cornrows and tats in this town just happen to be Melo and AI?

But seriously, how popular are Melo and Iverson in Denver? How popular is this star-loaded hoops squad in this football town? Does Denver deserve such a nice ball club? Do they even care?

Nick Sclafani (The Nugg Doctor): Until the Denver Nuggets win any sort of championship, or at least make it to the finals, they are not going to captivate the average fan. And you're right when you say that Denver isn't exactly a major market, so it only makes sense that there isn't a very consistent buzz surrounding a team of that should garner a whole lot more out of their fan base than say... the Avalanche (Are they still on T.V.?). But for the REAL Nuggets fans out there, say the average the reader of the The Nugg Doctor, it has been a serious treat. I was always a fan of AI, but in all honesty, I never really watched a whole lot of his games while he was in Philly. You always hear about a guy being a "Warrior", but until you get to appreciate it on a regular basis you never really comprehend what king of player AI is.

As far as Carmelo goes, well, watching him even grow to this point has also been a education on how a star is born. When he came into the league he was still playing the game mentally at a college level. Now Carmelo still has all the same physical attributes, besides maybe a couple of extra pounds of muscle, and his jumper is still the same, but he is playing the game at a much higher level mentally in these last two years. He is thinking the game through now and it's showing particularly in his rebounding. He's quietly moved into the second leading rebounding position for the Nuggets at 6.5 boards a game and has had four double-doubles in his last five games (and had it not been for all the malarkey offensive fouls in the first match up he'd be five for his last five!). Last year, Carmelo was granted his first All-Star birth a la David Stern making the right move. This year, he is the leading the All-Star vote getter for the Western Conference's forwards. Bottom line is Carmelo is a beast and he's only getting better with age, `nuf said.

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The GSoM Crew wanted to thank Nick for trading thoughts with us. Should be a fun one tonight. As of Saturday night the Over/Under for the Warriors-Nuggets game in Denver was 230. I'll take the over.

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