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Game 71 preview: Nuggets @ Suns

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Records:
Denver 45-25 (18-17 on the road)
Phoenix 38-31 (22-13 at home)

Season Series tied 1-1:
December 20th:
Phoenix wins 108-101 in Phoenix
January 15th: Denver wins 119-113 in Denver

 

I'm pretty sure that the recipe for a Nuggets win is just about as simple as baking brownies in an Easy-Bake Oven. 

All the Nuggets really need to do is - pass the ball on offense to create open looks, protect the glass, and come with energy on defense. Sounds simple enough right?

Over Denver's 5 game win streak they have averaged 26.4 assists per game as a team. For the season Denver is averaging 22 assists per game, which is good for 5th Overall in the NBA.

Tonight Denver faces a Suns team that also understands how key ball movement is to success. The Suns rank 3rd in the NBA with 22.98 assists per game. Steve Nash still runs the show in Phoenix as you all know and he is averaging 9.6 assists per game on the season.

Chauncey Billups is averaging 9.2 apg on the current win streak, which is nearly three more assists per game than his season average of 6.3 apg. And that is where it all starts ... with the point guard. Billups was brought in to save money run the show on the court and be the distributor the Nuggets were obviously in need of. He has been just that over the past five games.

And frankly, the season high 40 points JR Smith put up against the Wizards in Denver's 116-105 win is something that he's capable of doing on more of a regular basis, so having someone (like Billups) to get him, Melo, and Nene the looks they need is what is going to translate to more success for this team in the long run.

Melo, Nene, and JR are Denver's core. The team will win or lose based on what these guys are able to do come playoff time. We all know that Billups can be leaned on for offense in times of need, but this team has a much higher playoff ceiling with the core guys clicking.

These games keep getting bigger and bigger for the Nuggets. It's apparent that the Blazers at 44-26 are not going to roll over and hand the division to the Nuggets and neither are the Jazz (43-26). But the biggest story of the last 10 games has been the fall off in play of the Spurs. San Antonio seemingly having the #2 seed wrapped up have now lost two straight and are just 5-5 over the last 10 contests. The Spurs have been caught by the rest of the pack and hold only a half game lead over the Nuggets for the #3 seed, after the Rockets overtook the Spurs for the second seed over the weekend.

If you'd like to read more about the Spurs meltdown then click here for a pretty humorous breakdown of their breakdown.

Tonight's game is a playoff game. The Suns are just 3 1/2 game behind the Mavs for the 8th seed out West. So, like the Nuggets, every game for Phoenix is important.

The Suns are averaging 128 points per game on their current four game win streak. They had been losers of six straight prior to this last ditch effort for a playoff spot. So I guess you just never know which Suns team is going to show up. On their six-game skid the Suns averaged 111 points per game.

Again, if the Nuggets come with energy on defense and intensity then they should be able to win this game. Denver is a better team than the Suns and tonight they have to prove it. This is playoff basketball and I hope the Nuggets use their recipe for success tonight.

 

Pregame notes:

  • Let's see how Chris Anderson plays after recording a career high in points against the Wizards and nearly a triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks
  • Anthony Carter is averaging 6.8 assists per game on Denver's 5 game win streak
  • Renaldo "The Crime Stopper" Balkman is averaging a double-double over Denver's 5 game win streak with 11.4 points and 10.2 rebounds (5.6 offensive rebounds)

Opposition take: Bright Side of the Sun

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com