First-year Cavaliers head coach David Blatt did not anticipate a rocky start to his NBA coaching career. It’s hard to blame him when he has talented players in Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love on his roster.
The players haven’t meshed yet as a team. James is struggling to shoot, and there seems to be trust issues with Irving and James. It hasn’t helped Blatt is learning what makes his players successful on the fly after coaching in Israel over the years.
Still, the rookie Cavaliers head coach knows it’s five games into the season. He knows his talented players will figure it out. Second-year Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw does not have that luxury. His roster does not have great players or go-to guys that can win him games.
After winning on Opening Night against the Pistons, the Nuggets have proceeded to lose four in a row after taking a 110-101 loss to the Cavaliers last night at the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets played five games, and from watching this group, this team is on pace to win 34 games this season. This is not a good basketball team. It’s not a good sign when Shaw does not even know who to put in his starting lineup. It’s never good when he does not know what to expect out of Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari.
This is a Nuggets team that can’t defend, shoot or operate an offense. There is no ball movement from that team. It seems like this team just shoots the ball as soon as one of their players have it. Last night was no different than the other four games they played in.
The night did not start off well when the Nuggets announced Ty Lawson was not going to play after a sore ankle. That put the Nuggets in a bind in itself. The offense runs much better when he is on the court.
It got worse as the game started. The Cavaliers were able to hit open shots. They were able to score in the paint with no one defending them. The Nuggets had a hard time passing the ball, and they shot the ball as soon as they had the ball with no positive results.
The Cavaliers outscored the Nuggets 38-20 in the first quarter, and they never looked back.
Sure, the Nuggets outscored the Cavaliers 81-72 in the final three quarters, and they cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 98-92 late in the fourth quarter. But no one had the impression the home team would win it. Not when the Cavaliers have stars on the roster.
It was telling when Shaw did not use Faried and Gallinari down the stretch since he did not trust them in that fourth quarter. He was hoping Jusuf Nurkic, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler and Alonzo Gee can finish the comeback after putting the Nuggets within six. It was not meant to be.
Shaw said he was proud of his team for coming back and making this a game. Whatever. It’s about wins and losses. That’s what fans care about. It was a great gesture the second-year coach did in giving props to his reserves, but that does not get anyone excited.
Right now, this Nuggets team has nothing going for them. There’s no mojo with this team. Guys are getting worse instead of getting better. It has to be alarming when the head coach is not trusting Faried. It could get worse before it gets better for the Nuggets.
This poor start have Nuggets fans pining for the George Karl days based on reading Nuggets Twitter after last night’s loss. They know he got so much out of this flawed roster, and they know he can win with them unlike Shaw.
The fans are starting to turn on Shaw, and it could get ugly if the Nuggets don’t start winning soon.
It’s not Shaw’s fault. He does not have a good roster whatsoever. There’s nothing he can do if his players don’t know how to play winning basketball. This is a team that does not have a chance to make the postseason.
Still, someone is going to take the blame. There’s always a scapegoat after a bad season. Fans want blood.
Shaw could be that coach. After all, coaches are expendable and replacable.
It’s not fair, but sports are never fair. Shaw knows the deal. It’s what he signed up for when he took the Nuggets coaching job.
He either has to somehow make something out of this roster or he could be looking for work.
With this roster, it’s a challenge.
It’s no wonder Shaw looks at Blatt with envy with the roster he works with. He knows the Cavaliers can turn it around.
The Nuggets coach doesn’t know if his team will.
He may pay the price if they don’t.
Contact or Follow Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter