Yes the Denver Nuggets are 6-1 since Chauncey arrived, but honestly, they have only had one win that was truly a statement game. They have proven they can take care of business against the mediocre to poor teams I the league, but starting tonight they get a chance to show us how good they really are. I think by the end of November we will have a sense if this is a team who will just squeak into the playoffs or if they are a team who can challenge for home court advantage.
The Nuggets have been somewhat fortunate that they have had a few games on the easy side that has allowed them to work Billups into the lineup. There are seven games over the next two weeks and four of those games are against quality teams. They have road games against the Spurs and Lakers followed by home games against New Orleans and Houston later in the month.
How they fare in those four games, assuming they continue to take care of business in the other three remaining November games against Chicago and at the Clippers and Wolves, the Nuggets will have put themselves well on their way to a very successful regular season.
However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Tonight the Nuggets face an old nemesis in the San Antonio Spurs. Some will discount the Spurs due to the fact that they are playing without Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but the Spurs are actually playing very solid basketball. Roger Mason, Jr. is playing very well on both ends of the floor and Michael Finley has found the fountain of youth. One thing potentially working in the Nuggets favor though is neither Mason nor Finley have shot well at home so far this season. Of course, that may just mean they are due for a big game.
The big key for the Spurs though is of course Tim Duncan. He is playing great at an MVP level and he has drug the Spurs to wins in their last three games. Teams must double him in the paint and that opens up the floor for Mason and Finley. The Nuggets rotations will have to be tight tonight to prevent the Spurs from getting open looks.
Once again it is important that Nene does not get into early foul trouble. Adding even more importance to Nene being available to play his typical 35 minutes is the fact that Renaldo Balkman, who has been filling in at center behind Nene and Kenyon, is questionable with a bad ankle. Denver dodged a bullet last night as Andrew Bogut was banged up and missed some time while Nene was out with his two early fouls. They will not be so lucky against the Spurs although Kenyon can do a decent job on Duncan as long as he has help.
Tonight will be a good test as we will get to see if they can again raise their game facing a tough opponent on the road or if the Celtics game was a bit of a fluke. I think they can and will get another nice win tonight to give them even more momentum as they head into the Staples Center to throw down with the Lakers again on Friday.
Make sure you check out Pounding the Rock to get some coverage from a bunch of Ginobili lovers.