The Washington Wizards will be trying to work their black magic in the Pepsi Center tonight. No disrespect to the Wiz, who have definitely impressed everyone with their ability to win without Gilbert Arenas, but the Nuggets better win this one.
Washington has proven that they can win without Gilbert Arenas, but they have not been so lucky with a recent hip injury to Caron Butler. Butler has been out or physically limited over the Wizards previous six games of which they have lost the last five.
Butler is listed as day to day (or more appropriately, night to night) tonight, but I almost wish he would play. If the Nuggets find out he will be sitting out, I would expect them to try to mail this one in and fall behind early yet again. If the Nuggets cannot bring their mental ‘A’ game for a full 48 (or 53 as it was) minutes against rival Utah, they will definitely have a difficult time getting excited about a team that they surely view as inferior.
Andray Blatche, who would have been drafted by the Nuggets in place of Ricky Sanchez had I had my way, will be starting in Butler’s place should Butler be unable to play. Over the six games where Butler has been out or limited Blatche is averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds. He would comprise a big front line alongside of Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison. Haywood does not have a very diverse offensive game, but he has the girth to give Camby problems in the paint. Kenyon called Jamison’s game, "Awkward, but effective" in the Denver Post today and he is exactly right. He throws shots up in any manner of ways and somehow most of them manage to go through the net. Jamison is proof that basketball is more art than science. Science tells us the bumble bee cannot fly and that 78% of Jamisons’ shots should not go in.
With such a big frontline the Nuggets will have to hit the glass. It will be interesting to see if Blatche’s length will bother Melo when he has the ball. I doubt Melo would try to post up much with Blatche on him. Look for Melo to take him outside and use that jab step to clear some room to shoot overtop of Blatche.
Deshawn Stevenson is a defensively minded guard who is having a down year offensively. He could make Iverson work on both ends of the floor, but we all know AI is not afraid of a little work on the court.
We may not know if Caron Butler will play or if the Nuggets will bring their brains and hearts on the court with them, but we can expect one thing, a high scoring game. Since George Karl came to town in 2004-2005 the winner of the Wizards/nuggets game in Denver has scored an average of 118 points.
I recommend you head on over to Bullets Forever to get some insight from the Wizards perspective.