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Don't tell me that Melo isn't clutch ever again...

Nuggets/Mavericks Recap...

First off, I might as well sell my playoff tickets now because there's no way I'm making it to the end of this Nuggets season in one piece. I'm due for a full-fledged heart attack at any moment. Maybe Rocky can rush me to the hospital tomorrow night if it happens during the Warriors game.

I was all set to write a post tonight titled "Bad Habits Not Rewarded" because I thought the Nuggets had no business winning this game. If you didn't watch the game but just looked at the box score, you'd see incredible offensive performances from both Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. But if you actually watched the game as I did, you saw Melo and J.R. racking up those points almost primarily from jump shots for the first three quarters only. On his way to 22 points, J.R. got to the free throw line exactly zero times. And while I don't have the data handy, I'm assuming that it's pretty rare to go for 43 points while mustering a mere six free throw attempts as Melo did. Has this ever happened in NBA history?

Throughout the Altitude broadcast, Scott Hastings kept pointing to the free throw disparity as if the Nuggets were getting screwed by the refs somehow. Sure, the Mavericks were the beneficiaries of some ticky tacky calls, but nothing out of the ordinary on the road. The truth - whether anyone wants to admit this or not - is that the Nuggets weren't taking the ball to the basket to put any pressure on the Mavericks defense or the refs to make any calls. So it didn't surprise me in the least when the Mavs went on a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter, as the Nuggets did nothing to wear them out (watching Melo and J.R. drill jumpers in your face isn't as tiring as them trying to dunk on you).

But the Nuggets bad habits came to a screaching halt within the last minute of the game and Melo proved yet again why he's one of the most clutch players in the NBA today. Yeah, he missed that second free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining, but he put his head down to draw the big shooting foul with 43 seconds remaining (and made both free throws), made the go-ahead layup (in traffic!) with 12 seconds left and grabbed the big rebound that sealed the Nuggets victory with 1.2 seconds left before getting fouled. Melo may never be LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, but he's no slouch either. So to all the Melo haters out there: don't tell me that Melo isn't clutch ever again.

Another great road win and we get a fresh Nene back against the Warriors tomorrow. I'm going to get my heart rate checked now...

Nuggets/Mavericks Preview...

At the beginning of the 1990s, the Nuggets and Mavericks followed a very similar pattern. What had once been two relatively successful, stable franchises throughout the 1980s (and playoff regulars) decided to rebuild at the same time under unstable ownership. Beginning with the 1990-91 NBA season, the Nuggets and Mavericks combined for two playoff appearances - both by the Nuggets - over 10 long seasons. During that 10-season span, the Nuggets would win 24 or less games five times while the Mavericks managed to win 28 or less games eight times. And each franchise had an 11-win season during that dreadful decade. (Say what you want about Stanley Kroenke and Mark Cuban, but it's thanks largely to their stable ownership that both franchises have returned to postseason regularity throughout this past decade.)

But as bad as some of those Mavericks teams were, even the playoff bound Nuggets of 1993-94 and 1994-95 couldn't sweep them. And to this day, after 28 years of NBA basketball in Dallas, the Nuggets have never swept the Mavericks in a season series.

That could change tonight.

The 2008-09 Nuggets - much like their 2007-08 predecessors - have been able to take down the Mavericks consistently. This season, the Nuggets have won all three games and last season, they took two out of three. A lot of these games have been close (the Nuggets margin of victory in both Denver games has been just 2.5 points), but the Nuggets always seem to play confidently against the Mavericks, knowing they can pull it out down the stretch.

The Nuggets might face a different Mavericks team tonight. Even though they lost at Portland last night, the Phoenix Suns are still trying desperately to catch Dallas for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference. Knowing this, the Mavericks have been playing with a greater sense of urgency in order to secure that eighth seed (only to be slaughtered by the Lakers).

Like the Hornets game on Wednesday, if the Nuggets are to be successful it will be a hard fought victory. I just hope they don't wear themselves out with a trap home game coming tomorrow night when Golden State comes to the Pepsi Center.

Go Nuggets!!