After a three-game losing streak was followed up by a four-game winning streak, the Denver Nuggets regressed with another three-game skid and find themselves at No. 19 in Seth Rosenthal's NBA power rankings for SB Nation. The Nuggets lost to Phoenix, Miami and San Antonio this week, and bad defense is the reason why, writes Rosenthal:
Denver finally managed to shoot pretty well in each of those games, only to collapse defensively (especially in the backcourt) such that it didn't matter. Not helping matters: Denver is the league's worst free-throw shooting team and it's not close. Maybe that's why they never get to the line?
Despite shooting 54 percent against the Suns and 50 percent against the Spurs, Denver lost by giving up 110 and 126 points, respectively. Phoenix had 18 more shot attempts than Denver because of the turnover and offensive rebound margins, and San Antonio had 10 more shots than the Nuggets.
But perimeter defense has been the Achilles' heel of the team.
The Nuggets gave up three-point shooting percentages of 58, 48 and 59 through the three games. They lost 98-93 against the Heat, who exposed Denver's lacking perimeter defense by scoring only 24 points in the paint to the Nuggets' 50.