The Denver Nuggets are off to a respectable 14-9 start this year, but you have to wonder if their record could be even better with improved play in the first quarter. The Nuggets have been slow starters. In 14 of 23 games this season, they have found themselves trailing after 12 minutes. That has been the case in each of Denver’s past eight games.
Last week, head coach Brian Shaw blamed his team’s slow starts on the junk food his players were eating in the locker room before games. He replaced pizza and tacos with fresh salads, cold cuts and chicken breast before last Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards. The Nuggets were outscored 22-18 in the first quarter of that game, 33-28 to start the following game and 27-24 the game after that. Shaw now has a new theory.
“We are done with our talk, and chalk talk and board work and film session, usually with about 23 or 24 minutes left on the game clock before the game starts,” Shaw said Monday, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “They are supposed to be ready and out on the floor to get a good 20-minute workout. And what we’ve been finding as well as we’ve been researching what the problem is, is we come back in the locker room a lot of times and it’s 16 minutes on the clock and there’s a lot of guys still in the locker room.
“We’re trying to get them out there and make them understand that’s what it takes. You’ve got to get out there, you’ve got to get loose, you’ve got to get warm. We’re hitting every angle that we can, and hopefully it will be remedied soon.”
Apparently Shaw believes four extra minutes of loosening up makes a huge difference, and he could be right. Or, it could just be a mental problem for many of the players.
Basketball is a game where you can easily erase a 10- or 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Perhaps the Nuggets are relying on that truth a bit too heavily. Ditching junk food and warming up sooner may help, but ultimately the players have to want to give a full 48-minute effort. Had Denver done that more often this season, they would likely have a few more wins.Google+