Nuggets at Heat preview: Can a Stiffs Night Out turn the Nuggets fortunes around?

Chris Trotman

Our Denver Nuggets have gotten off to a disappointing 0-2 start to the 2012-13 NBA season. Can a gathering of 100-plus Denver Stiffs readers breathe new life into this lifeless team?

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2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 3
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1-1

0-2
November 3rd, 2012, 5:30 PM (MT)
American Airlines Arena - Miami, Florida
TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Mario Chalmers PG Ty Lawson
Dwyane Wade SG Andre Iguodala
LeBron James SF Danilo Gallinari
Shane Battier PF Kenneth Faried
Chris Bosh C Kosta Koufos
Notes
Hot Hot Hoops Blogs You're here!
Joel Anthony (out), Dexter Pittman (out) Injuries Danilo Gallinari (day-to-day), Wilson Chandler (probable), Julyan Stone (out)
Both the Heat and the Nuggets will be playing in the second of a back-to-back. Stat In their lone meeting last season, the Nuggets handily defeated the Heat 117-104 at Pepsi Center.

There's no sugarcoating it: two games into the new NBA season, the Nuggets look awful. Just awful.

Their uninspiring play that closed out the pre-season with four straight losses has clearly carried over into the regular season. Two games into the 2012-13 campaign, the Nuggets are yet to break 90 points in a game, are yet to shoot better than 39% from the field and are missing about half their free throws.

But those are just the numbers.

Actually watching the Nuggets' first two games (a painful experience thus far), we're seeing a team that is out of sync - from the players participating in the game on the floor to the choices of lineups being sent into action by head coach George Karl. Not only do the Nuggets have no cohesion offensively, but their defense is porous. When playing the Nuggets on Friday night, Orlando Magic scrubs Josh McRoberts and E'Twaun Moore (who?!) looked like All-Stars. And the Magic were/are supposed to be the worst team in the Eastern Conference!

Making the first two games even more disappointing, the Nuggets have faced two center-less squads in the Philadelphia 76ers and the Magic. Weren't Nuggets fans sold on having ample depth at center? Didn't Kosta Koufos allegedly have an "awesome" pre-season? Didn't JaVale McGee get tutored by legendary NBA center Hakeem Olajuwon?

And now for the hard part of the Nuggets' season-opening three game road trip: a visit to NBA champion Miami ... a night after the Heat were embarrassed on national television by a cruddy New York Knicks squad. You just know the Heat will be looking to clean the Nuggets' collective clocks right from tip-off. And while I don't know what the line on this game is, with the way the Nuggets are playing right now you have to take the Heat and the points, right?

With all sincerity, the only thing the Nuggets have going for them right now is that 100-plus Nuggets fans will be gathering to watch the game for our next Stiffs Night Out (5:00pm MDT at Jake's Food & Spirits). Not only are we going to watch the game together, but we're going to raise money for Denver Hooperz - a local non-profit - and will play trivia for Nuggets-related prizes, including tickets to the Heat vs. Nuggets game at Pepsi Center on November 15th. After all, the Nuggets need all the karma they can get if they're to even be competitive with the Heat on Saturday night.

When assessing the Nuggets chances against a sure-to-be-pissed-off Heat team on Saturday night, I don't know where to start. If Spencer Hawes and Josh McRoberts can kill the Nuggets, should I be fearing what a creaky Mike Miller is going to do? (Get it? Three white guys in a row? Get it?)

Against the Knicks on Friday night, LeBron James and the Heat allowed Carmelo Anthony to look like a superstar and - whether it was related to Hurricane Sandy or not - ceded all of the game's emotional energy to the Knicks. This is bad news for Denver, as one has to assume that James and his Heat teammates will be re-energized in front of their home crowd on Saturday.

Meanwhile in Orlando on Friday, the Nuggets successfully played four quarters of clueless basketball against another undermanned and undersized opponent. Not only did McRoberts and Moore give the Nuggets fits, but Glen Davis and J.J. Redick had a field day, too. The Nuggets bigs of Koufos, McGee and Kenneth Faried were nowhere to be found. And will someone please tell Karl to stop allowing Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler to shoot? (Luckily, Chandler won't play Saturday as he's being held out of back-to-backs for the foreseeable future.)

With those thoughts in mind, here are ...

THREE THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN THIS GAME

1) Will the Nuggets realize that they are taller than their opponent?

Playing the second of a back-to-back for both teams, we should expect a slower-paced game and more half-court offense. In theory, this should favor the team with a bigger lineup. And given that Karl hasn't played Koufos, McGee or Faried much in the first two games, it would be nice if they got ample playing time against the Heat's undersized front line of James, Shane Battier and Chris Bosh. But since that would make sense, we can guarantee it won't happen.

2) How will the Nuggets guard LeBron James?

Will Karl deploy Danilo Gallinari against the King? Faried? Jordan Hamilton? Does it matter? Probably not.

3) Ty Lawson's consistency

The Nuggets' $48 million man has played inconsistently for two straight games. Memo to Ty: Your contract is taken care of, now it's time to focus on playing basketball again.

SCOUTING THE HEAT

Heat Non-Stiffs

-LeBron James: James had a largely ineffective game against the Knicks and still had 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. James' production is so remarkable that we've become desensitized to it.

-Dwyane Wade: He may not be on James' level anymore, but Wade can still fill up a box score in every category.

FINAL THOUGHT

I know I've been shamelessly promoting our next Stiffs Night Out, but we'd very much appreciate it if those who can attend do so. Not only will we be giving out awesome Nuggets prizes (like tickets to the Heat and Warriors games, a JaVale McGee autographed basketball and new uniform T-shirts), but we will be collecting donations for Denver Hooperz, a local non-profit that provides basketball programs for at-risk youth here in Denver.

The Nuggets are struggling and now is not the time to (overly) panic and bail on this team. So let's rally tomorrow for Stiffs Night Out and collectively cheer them on against the mighty Heat.

Go Nuggets!!

*****

Visit our friends at TiqIQ if you want to order Denver Nuggets Tickets this season!

*****

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