Nuggets 35-17 (15-11 on the road)
Magic 38-12 (20-5 at home)
Pay close attention to that home record for the Magic. The Nuggets have not won in Orlando since the 1991-1992 season - that's good for an 0-15 effort since that time.
Things will not be any easier this go round ... I don't think any Nuggets fan has forgotten the beating Orlando put on Denver on January 17th at The Can (Pepsi Center). To give you a refresh ... Denver lost 106-88 and basically just lied down in the train tracks and watched as the steamroller dismantled them.
Well I guess things will be a touch easier since Jameer Nelson is out with a separated shoulder. Nelson was named to the All-Star team after averaging 16.7 ppg and 5.4 rebounds before suffering the injury. The Magic quickly moved guard Keith Bogans to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard Tyronn Lue as an insurance policy.
The Nuggets must find a way to stop the Orlando's inside-outside play. If Chris Anderson is unable to go, which I suspect he will sit out with that sprained wrist, then Nene will be in serious trouble down low defending Dwight Howard. The problem there is that if Denver decides to double Howard ... he is capable of kicking the ball out to one of Orlando's many bomb specialists (Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu). But Nene has had trouble staying out of foul trouble and the task of guarding Howard may prove too much (at least in the officials eyes.)
The theory states that it's better to make teams beat you with outside shots, but when that team is leading the league in three-point shooting at 39.9% - then you almost have to say: to hell with that theory and force Howard to try to beat you.
Opposition's take: Third Quarter Collapse (great write up!)
- Denver is 3-6 on the season in the second of back-to-back games on the road
- In his last five games Dwight Howard is averaging 25.4 ppg and 15.2 rebounds per game - on the season he averages 20.6 ppg and 14.1 rpg
- In the first matchup versus the Nuggets: Turkoglu, Lewis, and Nelson scored a combined 77 points to Howard's 14 - so pick your poison if you allow the outside shooting ...