Skip to content

Brian Shaw blames Nuggets’ slow starts on pizzas and nachos

Dec 10, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT

Brian Shaw

The Denver Nuggets have been outscored in every first quarter they’ve played this month.

They’ve scored a little and fallen behind (22-18 to the Wizards on Monday night), scored a lot and still fallen behind (29-27 to the Nets on Dec. 3) and have just been plain routed (39-15 by the Celtics on Friday).

Yet, Denver has still gone 4-2 in December to bolster an impressive 13-8 overall record. Under first-year coach Brian Shaw, the Nuggets are definitely exceeding expectations, and there are many more reasons to be satisfied than not.

But Shaw is leaving nothing to chance.

Tom Schad for The Denver Post (hat tip: Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie):

Shaw has searched for answers to their offensive woes in the first quarters of games. Last week, he walked through the locker room, saw players eating pizza and nachos and believed the poor diet to be the cause. So he picked up all the junk food and threw it in the trash.

The Nuggets had fresh salads with chicken breast and cold cut sandwiches before Monday’s game. The sluggish result was the same.

“We’ll keep searching and seeking until we find (it),” Shaw said. “We just talk about the starters needing to start the game for us. Our bench has been tremendous really this whole season. They’ve bailed us out of a lot of situations.”

First of all, I applaud Shaw’s  attention to detail. That’s the mark of a good coach.

Many coaches get so drawn into Xs and Os, they don’t see the forest for the trees. Anyone who’s ever eaten fast food knows how lethargic it can make you feel, and that very well could be a significant factor for Denver. Again, Shaw deserves credit for considering all angles.

But I’m not convinced the Nuggets even have a first-quarter problem, let alone one based on pregame meals.

Denver’s offensive rating is actually better in the first quarter than overall, though it’s defense slips to a greater degree than the offense improves. The Nuggets’ first-quarter net rating (–0.6) is lower than its overall net rating (3.4), but 27 of 30 teams have at least one quarter where their net rating slips more than four points, including seven for which it happens in the first quarter.

There’s just a natural variance that occurs, and overall, the Nuggets’ first quarters seem to fit within it.

Really, Denver’s worst quarter is its second. Here’s the team’s offensive rating (gold) and defensive rating (blue) by quarter with the dotted line representing the team team’s overall mark in each category. The upper and lower bounds of the chart are set equal to the NBA’s best (Trail Blazers) and worst (Bucks) overall offensive rating.

image

Of course, the stats don’t tell everything. Shaw is better positioned to recognize when Denver’s early errors could be attributed to the side effects of eating unhealthily. And he’s especially well-suited to inform his players how to eat better – or at least refer them to someone who will.

But if his players push back and want their junk food, I don’t think Shaw can say with certainty the Nuggets’ first quarters are due to anything other than random variance. If they accept his change to the menu, then there’s certainly no harm done.

Latest Posts
  1. Mavericks sign Ivan Johnson

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks

    Johnson gets NBA contract after eventful summer league

  2. Report: Timberwolves told Kevin Love to sit out the World Cup

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    I’m not sure Love is taking advice from Minnesota right now

  3. Derrick Rose told Carmelo Anthony that if he came to Chicago “the game would be easy”

    Jul 29, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Rose said he was disappointed but he understands ‘Melo’s decision.

  4. LeBron James strips on stage, throws clothes into crowd (video)

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    Want to see LeBron strip down to his underwear?

  5. Steve Nash: ‘I think this is my last season’

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

    Steve Nash, Meta World Peace Steve Nash, Meta World Peace

    Lakers guard confirms he’s planning on retirement

  6. PBT Extra: Is this the end of Donald Sterling as NBA owner?

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

    Donald Sterling isn’t going away, but he’s pretty much done as the Clippers owner now.

  7. Grizzlies name general manager Chris Wallace general manager

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT

    Yes, you read that headline correctly

  8. Is DeMarcus Cousins the big man Team USA can lean on?

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    DeMarcus Cousins AP

    The question with Cousins is never talent, but his maturity seems to be there.

  9. Report: Gary Payton assistant-coaching candidate with Lakers, Bucks

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Gary Payton #20 Gary Payton #20

    Jason Kidd or Byron Scott could hire former Seattle SuperSonic

  10. Kyrie Irving’s contract actually falls short of max

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving

    Irving wouldn’t get full 30 percent of adjusted salary cap by triggering Derrick Rose rule

  11. Report: Hawks draft pick ‘very likely’ to play in Spain next season

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Walter Travares, Walter Travares,

    Atlanta selected 7-foot-3 center No. 43 in 2014 NBA draft

  12. Blake Griffin backflips into sea before withdrawing from Team USA with reported back injury (video)

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six Getty Images

    Previous report said Griffin fractured back during Clippers’ playoff run, which ended before backflip video was posted

  13. Serge Ibaka still not 100 percent after unexpected playoff comeback

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three Getty Images

    Thunder forward says he’s improving, but ‘it’s going to take time’

  14. Report: Grizzlies hire Ed Stefanski for front office

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Evan Turner Press Conference Evan Turner Press Conference

    Former 76ers and Nets general manager now Memphis’ executive vice president of player personnel

  15. NBA Players union elects first female executive director in Michele Roberts

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:32 AM EDT

    Derek Fisher

    It wasn’t pretty getting there, but the union has a leader again.

  16. Kyrie Irving’s world looks pretty good right now

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:30 AM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    It’s been a good summer to be Kyrie Irving. Really good.

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4774)
  2. L. James (4510)
  3. K. Love (4183)
  4. J. Nelson (3583)
  5. R. Allen (3492)
  1. D. Rose (3376)
  2. C. Anthony (3008)
  3. K. Bryant (2926)
  4. A. Wiggins (2320)
  5. A. Aminu (2235)