by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Denver Nuggets, who for the second time this season played three straight, this time from Feb. 2-4.
The Nuggets are the first team this season to take on the three for all challenge twice (12 teams will do it more than once this season). The first time around they put up six points, due in large part to winning the last two games of the challenge, and were a Danilo Gallinari bunny away from sweeping the thing altogether. We’re a month longer into the season, and the Nuggets have played pretty well overall. Could they do even better this time around? Let’s take a look.
Game 1: Nuggets 112, Clippers 91 - A terrific start, getting a win at Staples Center against the up and coming Clippers. Denver’s rep this season is as one of the deepest teams in the league (thanks in part as we all know to the Carmelo Anthony trade, which they seem to have gotten the better of so far and by a longshot), and they used that depth against LAC, putting five players in double figures, led by Gallinari’s 21, and three more chipped in with eight. 3 points (1 for the win, 1 for +10 margin, 1 for road)
Game 2: Lakers 93, Nuggets 89 - In a weird schedule quirk, the Lakers comprised 50% of the Nuggets’ three for all challenges — Denver played them twice the first time around and once in this edition. Once again it came down to the wire, but Al Harrington missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds and the Lakers held on. -1 point
Game 3: Blazers 117, Nuggets 97 - The Blazers have been nearly unbeatable at the Rose Garden this season, and with Denver gasping for air in the last night of the challenge it’s no real surprise how this one turned out. Nicolas Batum hit nine 3s on his way to a career-best 33 points for Portland. 0 points
So we see almost a perfect negative of the Nuggets first threeplay — a win followed by two losses instead of a loss followed by two wins. 2 total points for Denver, and thankfully no more back-to-back-to-backs for the rest of the regular season.
Up next: The Utah Jazz and Miami Heat both play three straight Feb. 12-14.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets I (6 points)
— Orlando Magic (5 points)
— L.A. Lakers (3 points)