The Denver Nuggets raised more than a few eyebrows this summer.
Coming off a team-record 57 victories, and another first-round playoff exit, the Nuggets let executive of the year Masai Ujiri leave for a big contract with the Toronto Raptors and also parted ways with coach of the year George Karl.
It was the kind of wholesale change usually associated with the league's bottom feeders. And with four losses in their first five games, there were some nervous Denver fans.
New coach Brian Shaw has made some adjustments, going back to the more up-and-down style that fit the star-less roster so well last season. Now the Nuggets (10-6) have won six straight games and nine of their last 11.
"All the guys are starting to understand their role on the team," Shaw said. "I have encouraged guys to shoot when they're open, to run the floor, try to take the first available shot."
The Nuggets have overcome the loss of JaVale McGee and Danilo Galinari with a bench that is producing at an impressive clip. With Nate Robinson, who was brought in by new general manager Tim Connelly, leading the way, the Nuggets reserves outscored Minnesota's 47-10 on Wednesday and bludgeoned Toronto's 72-16 on Sunday.
"We have a tag-team mentality which is, first team wear them down and second team wear them out," Robinson said. "For us, early in the year a lot of guys on the team, a lot of guys on the bench, weren't making shots and now we are in our rhythm."
Denver has a good chance to keep the good times rolling this week with games against Brooklyn, Cleveland, Boston and Philadelphia.
Here are five things to watch for this week:
—HEAVYWEIGHT MATCHUP: The Indiana Pacers (16-1) take the league's best record into Portland to face the Trail Blazers (14-3) on Monday in perhaps the best game of the week. Both are playing the second night of back-to-backs, so there are no excuses.