Game two in the six game drive to dominance is tonight in Houston against the Rockets. In the past you could put a tick in the loss column whenever the Nuggets were playing a road game on the second night of back to back, especially against a quality opponent.
Not so this season.
As I wrote after the Nuggets impressive win in Dallas Denver is carving out a personality for road games. They are not afraid playing a game in the 80’s or 90’s (by that I am referring to point total, not the years 1980-1999). Last night was the fifth road win for the Nuggets this season where they have held their opponent below 90 points. Consistently winning that type of game has been nearly unheard of at any point during the Nuggets existence. This year it is a reality and the result has been eight wins in 12 games.
Denver does have a tall task ahead of them tonight, but then again, Houston is not playing at the top of their game. They lost their last home game against the Los Angeles Clippers by 13. However, because of that you can expect the Rockets to bring a very good effort tonight.
The Rockets play very good defense and are patient on offense. They swing the ball at least once on almost every possession. Sometimes the do it to give Yao a chance to get position on the weak side before they enter the ball or they dump it in to him first to force the double team in order to open the weak side up for their shooters. In the first meeting, won by the Nuggets, the Rockets were able to stay in the game thanks to some very good three point shooting made possible by ball reversals and penetration.
Defensively Denver is going to have to play physical with Tracy McGrady and make sure he is strictly a jump shooter. Yao is a load and they will have to swarm him with big players as they did in the first meeting. They cannot lose track of Shane Battier and when Carl Landry enters the game they need to treat him like would Carlos Boozer. He can hit the 15 footer at a very high rate and plays with a lot of energy in the lane.
The area of the game Denver has the advantage in this game is on offense. Denver will have to play better than they did last night in Dallas, and they certainly can. The Mavs are a decent defensive team, but Houston is at another level. Melo will have to contend with Shane Battier and maybe Ron Artest who may play tonight. Nene will have to attack Yao and oh by the way, a big key to this game is if either Yao or Nene get into foul trouble. Denver will have to attack the rim, and that means attack Yao, and make sure they are moving without the ball. Melo cannot get into a one on one battle against either Battier or Artest. He needs to get his assists back up in the five or six range in order for Denver to be successful tonight.
Obviously a win tonight would be huge and would really get this stretch off to a great start and I want a win like Lloyd Christmas desperately wants to make love to a schoolboy.
Previous Meeting: Game 18 - DEN 104 HOU 94