The Denver Nuggets have not lost a game to a non playoff team yet this season. They demolished the Toronto Raptors in the first meeting in Denver by 29 points. The Raptors are 4-12 over their previous 16 games. All signs point to a Nugget win tonight.
The thing that always scared me about playing against Toronto is their dangerous shooters such as Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono, Jose Calderon and even Carlos Delfino was a good weapon from long range last season. You could not rotate quick enough to cover all of them and it seemed like whoever was open would make you pay.
Well, this year has been different. Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono have not been shooting the ball anywhere near their previously lofty standards. Calderon is still a very good shooter, but he always looks to set his teammates up first. Delfino is completely out of the picture as he is playing in Russia this season.
The one thing that scares me is the Nuggets propensity to let struggling teams build confidence early in games. Toronto still has plenty of shooters who can light you up. As we have pointed out recently Denver has not been playing very well defensively lately, but Toronto is a team that could help them get back on track. Kenyon matches up well with Chris Bosh, at least as well as can be expected, Nene is listed as questionable with his neck strain and that means Chris Andersen will probably start. Jermaine O’Neal has a slight advantage there as he should be able to get some room to shoot his nice midrange jumper with Andersen sagging off with the hopes of notching a block. Carmelo Anthony should be able to handle Joey Graham as long as he stays in front of him and boxes out.
Denver is in good shape on the perimeter as well. In the first game George Karl chose to put Dahntay Jones on Calderon and Jones did a great job of frustrating Calderon and playing physical with him. The reason the Nuggets could get away with that matchup is because Parker is a smaller shooting guard and Chauncey matches up with him very well. It will be interesting to see if Karl employs the same strategy tonight.
I have not been impressed with the intensity the Nuggets have played with following losses lately and I can only hope that tonight is different.
Previous Matchup: Game 19 – DEN 132 TOR 93