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Marlowe Blog: Nuggets defense moving in right direction

Effort, execution have helped Denver thrive of late

The Nuggets could become a top-10 defensive team if they continue to pressure the ball and contain the pick-and-roll.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

I like what I'm seeing from the Denver Nuggets.

Mainly because I believe the Nuggets have now reached the junction where effort and execution are getting together.

Since coach Brian Shaw held “clear the air” meetings, the Nuggets’ effort has been off the charts. It’s the effort level that Shaw has been asking for all season.

Most encouraging is the fact that the players are now beginning to embrace Shaw’s defensive philosophy.

It a nutshell it is: guard your man, don’t switch, don’t allow open 3-point shots, block out, and secure the rebound.

Let’s chat particularly about defending the pick and roll. It has been the bane of the Nuggets existence since Hector was a pup!

Not anymore. The Nuggets have a plan and it’s working.

The point guards (Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson) have been doing a great job of not only pressuring the ball handlers, but also scraping their way through the high screens.

Then the bigs, J.J. Hickson, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov and Darrell Arthur hedge out hard to stop the ball handler and allow the defensive guard to get through the screen and re-engage with his man.

What’s more impressive is that the bigs, after the hedge, are able to get back to their men, completing the defensive maneuver. This allows the other Nugget defenders to be able to stick with their men and not allow open 3-pointers.

Shaw and his staff have been drilling the fellas on this defensive play since training camp. It is finally paying off.

This past Thursday night, the plan worked to perfection, as the Nuggets were able to control the Oklahoma City pick-and-roll, and hold the Thunder 3-point attack to just 6-of-24.

Overall, the Thunder managed just 88 points on 35.3 percent shooting, Yes, I know OKC was missing Russell Westbrook, but it was still an encouraging performance for the Denver defense.

The Nuggets are not a top 10 defensive team yet, but in my opinion, they are on their way. Perhaps by the time the playoffs roll around!


Chris Marlowe is in his 10th year as the play-by-play voice for the Nuggets on Altitude. He is a longtime broadcaster who also served as the captain of the gold media-winning U.S. Olympic volleyball team in 1984.