I feel for the Nuggets in losing a great player like Gallinari. Last night against the Mavericks, Gallinari drove to the basket, took an awkward step, and has seemingly torn his ACL. He had an MRI performed last night, and the Nuggets fans may have to fear for the worst. He was apart of that depth that made the Nuggets so scary at times.
As much has I hate to say it, this injury is beneficial to the Warriors in more than one way. If the Nuggets slow down, that gives the Clippers an opportunity to catch up to them and overtake them. If they don’t slow down, the Warriors and the Nuggets will meet in the first round. This time, however, there won’t be Gallinari, a guy who will drive a steak through the Warriors’ hearts. He’s done this many times in the clutch.
Against the Warriors this season, Gallinari is averaging 20.5 PPG. This is 4 points above his season average. Most of the games the Nuggets played with with the Warriors always came down to a 4th quarter finish. Without Gallinari, can the Nuggets make that extra push that they need to win down the stretch? I don’t think that they can. The Warriors, however, are learning how to play more and more down the stretch, and looking better and better as the games go by.
If the Warriors are so well known for blowing a huge lead, then why are they the 3rd best team in terms of winning record when leading at the end of the third quarter. Only one of the 3 losses that they in these circumstances is to the Nuggets, who crushed the Warriors in the 4th quarter. This is a game where Gallinari scored 21 points, and that, as it would turn out, was the difference for the Nuggets.
Without Gallinari, two things could happen:
1. Nuggets Fall..
With Gallinari, the Nuggets are a top 4 team in the Western Conference, which is incredible. Who would have thought the trade of a superstar would help the team so much? While the Nuggets are good, are they a top 4 team without Gallinari? I don’t think so, and if they fail to close out the season strongly, the Clippers will catch up and overtake them for the third seed.
The Clippers may be happy about this one, but they shouldn’t be. At all. In the playoffs, the atmosphere is completely different, and the 6th seed is the most confident of the lower seeded teams, usually. The Warriors have a good shot at beating the Clippers, because they’ve already won 3/4 against them this season. It wouldn’t be hard to upset them, but then again, they still need one road win, which is difficult with the energy of opponents’ crowds.
If the Nuggets falter in the post-season and the Warriors do get past the first round, it’s a win-win. The Nuggets have the second best home record in the NBA, and no one wants to be the lower seeded team playing them. If the Warriors never have to worry about seeing the Nuggets again, then they will play either the Grizzlies, Thunder, or Spurs in the second round. The Warriors have beaten the Spurs and Thunder this season, and all the games with the Grizzlies were close.
2. Warriors Shine In Crunch Time:
Again, the Warriors will always play a close game with the Nuggets. Fortunately for the Nuggets, however, they’re always able to outshine the Warriors, picking up a win. Gallinari has been the guy that hits daggers in the Warriors’ faces, so what do they do without him? Andre Iguadala is also very good in crunch time, but he isn’t the greatest 3-point shooter, and when being defended well, can be locked down.
Galo has always been that difference for the Nuggets, and without him, guys like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (if he breaks his slump) will go bang-bang from the 3-point line, and all of a sudden, the Nuggets are down by six. Without a clutch player, the Nuggets are forced to make plays happen, instead of running isolation. Ty Lawson is a great guard, but can and will be defended by Kent Bazemore or Klay Thompson if the situation is tense.
The Nuggets and the Warriors are two great teams that would have made for a great series. Unfortunately, injury also plays a factor and may have ruined the Nuggets season, or helped the Warriors extend theirs.