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The Nuggets need to make changes, because this is embarrassing

The Denver Nuggets hit a new low, allowing 84 points at home in the first half to the Portland Trail Blazers. With just one win in seven games, it's time for changes, whether big or small.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Allowing the Portland Trail Blazers to drop 84 points in one half Wednesday allowed the national audience to see the ashes raining down on Denver, but it wasn't an aberration through seven games to start the season.

Brian Shaw's team has lost six in a row, and after a 130-113 loss to Portland, he left his postgame podium after a 14-second speech without taking questions. Behind the scenes, Shaw should be asking himself questions as Nuggets fans begin putting the heat on him after he benched starters Arron Afflalo permanently in the second half and Kenneth Faried to start the third quarter.

Beyond that, Shaw and the team as a whole face schematic issues as well as big-picture problems. This roster is flawed, as close as it may seem to the 57-win team that won former coach George Karl the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2012-13.

What's wrong with the formula?

Denver plays big and fast, and though that seems like a valuable combination, the defensive breakdowns have been the biggest problem. The Nuggets haven't been able to win one-on-one matchups and are the fourth-worst defensive club in the league, allowing 108.6 points per 100 possessions.

Early against the Blazers, Robin Lopez, of all people, was taking it to center Timofey Mozgov in the post. It didn't help that Portland aggressively sought out Mozgov to get involved in defending pick-and-roll action. LaMarcus Aldridge commanded double-teams in the post as he would most nights, but Denver's digging down only led to passes out of the post and open threes. No matter how quickly the rotations were supposed to be, Portland -- as most other teams have -- strung the Nuggets defense out before its defenders even had a chance to stay in front of their opponents.

Off their own misses, Denver couldn't find their men in transition or get in front of Terry Stotts' offense. The lumbering Lopez even beat the Nuggets down the court by cherry-picking twice during the Blazers' final flurry in first half.

It doesn't help that the Nuggets' defense has defended the paint like other teams defend their offense.

Denver is the fourth-worst three-point shooting team by hitting 30.5 percent in the league. The big lineups haven't helped the spacing and only the backcourt of Ty Lawson and Randy Foye have shot better than 29 percent from deep. Complicating matters is the lack of mid-range shooting and low-post abilities from the big men rotation. Denver is shooting 35 percent from eight to 16 feet out and 29 percent from the 16- to 24-foot range.

What's so different from the 2012-13 team that included Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller? It was a better passing team and a slightly better -- though not great -- three-point shooting team. That combination meant it could put up a top-5 offense with a hectic pace.

What options do the Nuggets have?

Fire Shaw

This might be an easy way out, but it's something for general manager Tim Connelly to consider. Shaw joined the Nuggets last season as a big-time hire away from Indiana. Rumors even bubbled the Pacers' struggles at the end of last year was linked to losing Shaw, who was reportedly the "bad cop" to head coach Frank Vogel's positive personality, according to ESPN. Could that "bad cop" be rubbing the Nuggets the wrong way?

Before the preseason, Shaw said he didn't put many rules in place and was tinkering with how his players figured things out on their own, according to the Denver Post. It's hard to say whether not having a set plan going back to last season has hurt the Nuggets. At the least, it sounds bad.

Keep Shaw, get active in trade talks and tank

There's quite a bit of middle-rung talent on the Denver roster, though much of it is under contract until 2016. JaVale McGee's $11.3 million annual deal and Danilo Gallinari's $10.9 million owed to him this season might not be tradeable, but Afflalo, Mozgov, Foye, Wilson Chandler and others are reasonable enough to put on the market for playoff teams looking for an extra push. Denver would be looking for young prospects to play immediately and gain experience or draft picks.

Stay the course

This isn't the sunniest option, but there's reason to believe a team with Denver's talent shouldn't be playing so poorly. Shaw might be wise to cut down on a rotation that's seen 13 players average 10 or more minutes per game. He could also tinker with playing with less traditional units, putting Gallinari or Wilson Chandler at the power forward spots to spread the court and get more shooters on the floor.

More than that, it would probably help if Denver could hide its defensive issues, especially with a group of big men who haven't proven they can defend opponents one-on-one. Most of all, Shaw needs to commit to a system, dumb it down and see if his players can at the very least execute something with consistency.