The Nuggets welcome the Milwaukee Bucks to the Pepsi Center for the last game of their first back-to-back-to-back set of games. As ever, this game will pose unique challenges for the Nuggets in both fatigue and style of play.
Records: Denver 3-2 (2-0 at home), won 1 straight
Bucks 2-1 (0-1 on the road) won 2 straight
Television: Altitude TV
Season Series 2010-11: 2-0 Nuggets
Opposition's Take: Brew Hoop
The Milwaukee Bucks come into town with an interesting combination of a gritty coach, Scott Skiles, and a young core of players centering around Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. To say this will be challenging for the Nuggets may be an understatement, simply in terms of rest. The Bucks come in rested (last game Dec. 30) and the Nuggets just played two very hard fought and physical games with the Lakers.
This will be a test of the Nuggets mental resolve, and hopefully, a test of their depth.
Andrew Bogut is a player the Nuggets have struggled with in the rebounding department. The big Australian center was very impressive on the boards against Denver last year. While not particularly dynamic, Bogut is crafty and has some good offensive moves, including a mid-range jump shot. Most of all, he is a space eater who can clog the lane for a team that loves to do the dribble-drive offense.
Brandon Jennings has matured a bit in his third NBA season. He is still scoring at a 22 point per game clip, but has raised his assists to just over five a game. This is a good sign for a Scott Skiles coached team that depends on unselfishness and tough defense. If Jennings can continue to round out his game and become more of a point guard than a scorer, the Bucks may have something better going for them.
Stephen Jackson is at another stop on his tour of Eastern Conference teams. He as supplied some good support minutes for the Bucks (and is a former teammate of Al Harrington). Carlos Delfino (ie: the guy who inexplicably bothered Carmelo Anthony) and Ersan Ilyasova have produced some good minutes for the Bucks and their offensive efficiency and scoring are up from last season. Jonathan Brockman (aka: Scott Hastings favorite player) is a rebounding pest who has frustrated the Nuggets in the past on the glass.
All-in-all, the Bucks are a tough, sound team that - while not great - is the kind of team you dread to face in a situation such as the Nuggets are facing now. While I have never cared for Scott Skiles as a coach, he has got his players responding and respecting him.
Nuggets of Wisdom
Tired. So very tired.
Perfect chance to use that "deep bench" that we have been hearing about, but have yet to see. You see that guy sitting there ... you know ... he's a Greek-American. His name is Kosta Koufos - how about we see some of him? There's this young kid who needs some experience with game-time action. He has great upside and a lot of energy. His name is Kenneth Faried. Maybe get him in the game? How about this athletic small forward who has quickness? He also seems to provide energy. His name, as I recall, is Corey Brewer. I think this would be the perfect game for that.
I'm not saying play these guys all game, but just enough to give your regular guys additional rest. The exclusion of Koufos has been the most perplexing, considering his size and additional fouls that would have come in handy in the Lakers games. I'm a firm believer that if you have size you should use it. When Timofey Mozgov is in foul trouble the Nuggets go from a tall team to a small team very quickly. It's time to unleash the Koufos!
Danilo Gallinari broke out of his scoring slump with 20 points yesterday and regained some of his confidence (even though his threes aren't falling with consistency). Gallo's defense (along with Arron Afflalo) was the most impressive though, as he played Kobe Bryant very tough both in L.A. and in Denver. Ty Lawson continues to be the Nuggets most consistent player, but his quickness will be tested this evening against the speedy Jennings. The Nuggets also need Chris Andersen to play like he did yesterday ... maybe minus the miracle quarter-ending fade away jumper from the baseline, hopefully the Nuggets won't need that.
Once the Nuggets get their three point shooting woes solved this team will be even more dangerous. Lets see how this resolve with be tested tonight. It's imperative that George Karl loosen the reigns on the bench. Tonight's game is a perfect excuse to use Koufos, Faried, and Brewer.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78