Analysis: A closer look at the Nuggets 2012-13 schedule

Surviving early road test could be key to success for Denver
by Aaron Lopez

Despite an abundance of youth, the Denver Nuggets proved capable of winning on the road last season.

Their road resolve will be tested from the opening tip of 2012-13.

The Nuggets learned Thursday that they will play nine of their first 12, 17 of their first 23 and 22 of their first 32 games on the road when the season opens Halloween night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Denver went 18-15 away from Pepsi Center in 2011-12, and their .545 road winning percentage was the best in franchise history.

For the first time in the team’s NBA history, the Nuggets will open the season with three straight road games: at Philadelphia, at Orlando (Nov. 2) and at Miami (Nov. 3). Their first home game is Nov. 6 against the Detroit Pistons.

While the Nuggets will be tested by the inordinate number of early road games, the schedule is kind when it comes to back-to-back games. Denver plays on consecutive days only 17 times.

As we do every year, examines other facts, figures and highlights of the schedule before the Nuggets prepare to make a push for its 10th consecutive playoff appearance.

Scary Early Schedule

From Halloween to Dec. 12, Denver has its hands full with 17 road games, including dates against the defending champion Heat, ageless San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Denver will play six home games during this stretch, with marquee games against LeBron James and the Heat on Nov. 15 and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets on Nov. 25.

The Nuggets are capable of winning all six home games, and they likely would be satisfied winning anywhere from seven to nine games on the road.

Holiday Challenge

For the third time in four seasons, the Nuggets will play on Christmas Day. This year, they’ll look to spread some holiday cheer in Los Angeles against Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the Clippers.

Denver then turns around to play the L.A. Lakers at home on Dec. 26. This is scheduled to be the first time Kobe Bryant and point guard Steve Nash visit Pepsi Center as teammates.

New Year’s Resolution

If the Nuggets can survive the season’s first two months, the schedule starts to turn in their favor on New Year’s Day; from Jan. 1-Feb. 7, they play 15 of 18 games at Pepsi Center.

Denver went 20-13 at home last season, but they have won at least 30 home games in five of coach George Karl’s eight seasons.

During their extended home stretch, the Nuggets will play host to former teammate Nene and the Washington Wizards. Denver sent Nene to Washington on March 15 as part of a three-team trade that brought JaVale McGee to the Mile High City.

McGee, who signed a multiyear contract with the Nuggets on July 18, returns to Washington for the first time on Feb. 22.

Broadway Production

One of the most anticipated games of the season takes place March 13 when the New York Knicks make their only visit to Denver.

New York currently has four former Nuggets on their roster: Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith. The Knicks have not played at Pepsi Center since their 13-player, three-team trade with Denver and Minnesota on Feb. 22, 2011.

Since the trade, the Nuggets have compiled a 56-35 record.

Stretch Run

If the past decade is any indication, the Nuggets will be battling for playoff position in the West when April arrives.

Seven of Denver’s final eight games will be against Western Conference opponents, with five of those games at home.

The foes include West heavyweights Dallas (twice) and San Antonio, which should make for a compelling finish to 2012-13.