DENVER — The great experiment at Pepsi Center has been under way since Carmelo Anthony forced the Nuggets to deal away their franchise savior.
All that's missing is a white lab coat to replace their Big Bird-yellow jerseys.
The experiment is this: Can a roster of complementary players find the right mixture to overcome the absence of a true superstar and reach the NBA Finals?
The answer is this: “No. I don't care how much team basketball you play or how much talent you have all spread out. You can't win in this league without a superstar.”
Can't win — or can't win big?
“You can't win a championship. I don't even think you can even advance in the playoffs without that marquee player.”
Guess who told me that Wednesday?
A veteran in his 13th season in the NBA.
In addition to his refreshing honesty, Andre Miller is playing at a level that should be applauded. Quietly, his style, the point guard is a significant reason the Nuggets are hunting their eighth straight victory when the Bulls visit Thursday.
George Karl appreciates the stability Miller brings to a lineup that can be as wild as it is fun to watch. The coach leans on his eldest player at critical moments in games, knowing the trusty point guard is adept at making the wise decision.
“He comes in to work every day and goes hard every practice,” forward Corey Brewer said. “It shows in the game.”
When Miller signed for three more years in July, I didn't know how much butter he still had in his popcorn. The 36-year-old has enough to fill a multiplex.
The Nuggets are storming toward the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Since mid-December, no team has more wins than Denver (20).
At home, where their record is 21-3, these Nuggets are must-see TV.
This is not to disparage Denver's rip-roaring start to the new year. This is simply cold, hard, playoff truth.