With no Nuggets game today I decide the best way to get my basketball fix was by watching the Portland V. Dallas game. March madness is fun, but there is still no substitute for late season potential playoff matchup basketball.
All in all, I've got to say this was not the most exciting game of basketball ever to be watched. The superstars of both teams were off tonight as Dirk Nowiztki went 5-13 for 15pts and Brandon Roy put up an efficient 16 pts on 5-7 shooting to go along with 7 assists but was never really the focal point of the offense for Portland. Oddly enough the two players who would perform the best tongiht were two former nuggets, Andre Miller and Marcus Camby
Marcus was the good Camby tonight. He crashed the boards, he altered shots in the lane, he got easy buckets. Yes he threw up a few classic elbow knuckle jumpers that clanked off the rim, but he ended the night with a double double (one of three blazers to do so) at 17pts 11 reb. Dre' was at his finest tonight. He was the floor general and the creator, he was classic Dre'. remember the first playoff series against San Antonio (thanks to Airforcefoo for correcting me when I thought it was the second series) where we won the first game because Dre' played an unbelievable game and scored something like 25 pts. Well that was him tonight. He has a lot of success against the Mavericks (see his 52pt explosion last time these teams played) mainly due to the fact that Jason Kidd is a slow defender and regularly falls for Millers quick cross over step back jumper. Miller was on tonight shooting (6-11) but also got to the rim (7-8 ft) and found his teammates for easy looks (10 ast).
On the other side Dallas was poor all around with the exception of Caron Butler. Butler to me looks like a poor man's Melo, he's not as big, he's not as quick and his jumper is not as consistent but his skill set is essentially the same. Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez were no match for Butler who went for 25 pts and 9 rebs.
How the Nuggets matchup
Dallas: Dallas is a jump shooting team. With the exception of Butler and Shawn Marion ( and somewhat Jason Terry but not really) there aren't any players who are big enough and quick enough to slash towards the basket and be successful. Marion, Terry, JJ Barea will all try to do it, but none of them are very good at finishing around the basket. The Mavericks are successful because they have a team of good shooters, they use Brendan Haywood (inept on offense) and Eric Dampier to set screens to free up perimeter shooters or the let Dirk post up and fade on his man. Denver will struggle to defend this if they insisit on switching all the time on screens. Bird and Nene are in no way perimeter defenders and if Denver uses the switch they will continuously find there bigs playing on the three point line while some guard is getting posted up by Dirk. The nuggets best chance to beat Dallas will be to play up-tempo basketball, especially when Kidd is on the floor, and try to out run Dallas while on defense they will need to fight through the screens and perhaps employ a zone scheme (wishful thinking I know) which will nullify a lot of the screens
Portland: Almost exactly the opposite of Dallas. Outside of Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez when he's on, Portland has no shooters. They are all slashers. Miller, Batum, Roy, Fernandez, Webster and Bayless are at their best when they're driving in the lane, causing the defense to help, and freeing up others for easy shots. They play a lot of isolation basketball (Andre Miller loves to dribble after all). The addition of Camby helps tremendously because all he has to do is sit down low and clean the glass for garbage buckets. Other then Roy, the only player on Portland who can consistently create his own shot is LaMarcus Aldridge, whose post game is excellent. In order for Denver to beat Portland they will need a spirited effort from whomever defends Aldridge (please K-mart be back for this) and will need to be able to successfully double Roy. If you can neutralize these two players then the rest of the Blazers offense will not be able to carry the load. On defense the Blazers are very tough. They will no doubt bring help against Melo, which means other players will have to step up. We all know Camby is not a good on ball defender, which means Nene has to bring his A game if we face the Blazers, on offense he will be the key to victory.
All in all it was a boring game to watch but a good chance to catchup on the competition, plus Dallas lost so its nice to be happy about the result of a basketball game for the first time in almost a week.