It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…(no age of wisdom here).
The teams I believe are Denver’s closest competition for the last playoff spot, Portland and Dallas, are both 0-1. On top of that, Portland is without Greg “adding him will push us to 55 wins” Oden for two to four weeks. Plus keep in mind, Denver need only beat out one of those two teams. Good times.
On the other hand, the Nuggets are also 0-1 and are playing another game without alpha dog Carmelo Anthony. A loss to the Clippers will leave the Nuggets 0-2 and matched up against the juggernaut Los Angeles Lakes in game three. Those are pretty bad times.
Does that make this a must win game?
I am sure the Nuggets do not look at it that way, but I believe games played in October count just as much in the standings as games played in March and April and I do not want to see Denver start off the season losing two very winnable games, even if they are both on the road without Melo.
I thought Denver had a good shot to win Wednesday in Utah and I certainly think they have a shot to win tonight in LA against the Clippers. LA is playing without Marcus Camby and they were demolished by the Lakers in their opening game by 38. We can draw two conclusions from that. The Clippers are not a great team and they will be well motivated to not loose by 38 again.
Once again the Nuggets will need someone to step up on offense and provide a boost. The Clippers do not have anyone who can stay with Iverson or J.R. Smith if they decide to go the basket. They do not have anyone who can handle Kenyon Martin or Nene if they face up and go to the basket. Kleiza is deadly driving to his right off of a skip pass. Dahntay Jones cannot shoot so he better drive. You can probably surmise that I am hoping the Nuggets play aggressively on offense and drive every chance they get.
Defensively they need to play the same kind of team defense as they did in Utah. No one in the NBA can shut down a motivated Baron Davis. He is going to put up his numbers. It will be important to keep Cuttino Mobley, Al Thronton and Chris Kaman from having big games.
Most likely Linas Kleiza will start again and Thornton can eat him alive on offense. AI will probably have to cover Cuttino because Baron would smush his little bones into dust. The Nuggets will have to play well on defense to make up for those mismatches.
The Nuggets struggled rebounding the ball in Utah (I think a lot of that was a lack of effort and some bad bounces), but the Clippers were statistically worse. The Lakers outrebounded them by 19. We may be viewing some resistible force versus the moveable object action on that front.
I think we are in for a higher scoring game than we saw in Utah, but also a well contested one. Hopefully the Nuggets can pull out a win so we can stomach a loss to the Lakers tomorrow night a little easier.
One more thing, no news on the Kleiza extension front. I would think if it was done, we would have heard by now.