Mavericks 4 game win streak ended Saturday @ Denver
Tonight, the Nuggets will get their second chance to move north of .500 on the season.
Just a day removed from defending their home court in a tightly contested 102-100 victory, the Nuggets now fly to the American Airlines Center to battle the Mavericks on their home floor, where they are a perfect 7-0. So far, the Mavericks have downed the Hawks, Grizzlies, Lakers, Wizards, 76ers, Rockets and Jazz in Dallas. The Mavs have scored at least 105 points in 5 of those 7 contests.
Many of the salient points from my colleague Nate Timmons' preview of Saturday's game will be true of tonight's: the Nuggets need to continue to press their athleticism advantage and run, opening up the fast break looks and transition points which have buoyed them in recent games, where they have averaged 105 points per game over their last three. While the Nuggets will lose their altitude advantage, I still like them running against the relatively more traveled legs of Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter. Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki combined for 52 of the Mavericks 100 points on Saturday, and will again present tough covers for Wilson Chandler and Randy Foye.
Poor free throw shooting continues to remain a thorn in this team's side. After missing 18 free throws in a loss at Oklahoma City and 10 more at home in a win versus the Bulls, the Nuggets nearly blew a 17 point lead against the Mavericks in the Pepsi Center in part due to 9 more missed freebies. If you're counting, that's 37 points left at the line in their last three games, where the Nuggets margin of victory in their two wins has been just 4 1/2 points per game. Tell you what, Nuggets, I'll stop harping on free throws when you start making them with regularity.
It was great to watch Randy Foye hit some huge threes against the Mavericks on Saturday, and as Nate Robinson slowly finds his stride the sharpshooting duo will be again be relied upon to provide offense when the Nuggets stall against the zone. The Nuggets outside shooting must again be a factor to exert pressure on the Mavericks defense, which will help open up better looks for Faried, Hickson and Mozgov in the paint.
The Nuggets got big games out of Kenneth Faried (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Ty Lawson (20 points, 9 assists) in their last victory over the Mavericks on Saturday. The Nuggets should again gameplan to limit Dirk (27 points, 9 rebounds) and Monta (25 points,6 rebounds) as much as possible, while relying on their own superior bench to help push through to victory against a Dallas squad hungry for revenge.
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