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Game 2 preview: Nuggets vs. Hornets

 

 

"If your gonna to take it to the bank, then you better cash it in"


The above quote (author unknown) sums up what the Nuggets need to do tonight. After taking Game 1 (to the bank) Denver has a chance to (cash in) tonight and take a 2-0 series lead.

The Nuggets haven't won multiple playoff games since their seven game series against the Utah Jazz in 1994.

In their five straight playoff appearances the Nuggets have won Game 1 twice (both times against San Antonio in 2005 and 2007), but lost the next four games each time.

The Nuggets have failed to win more than one game in four of their five appearances and were famously swept by the Lakers last season. Rest assured this is not the Nuggets of old.

Nuggets Nation is more than ready for a Game 2 win. And in order to get there the Nuggets will have to fire up the defense once again.

Denver held New Orleans to 37.2% shooting in Game 1 ... now a lot of folks will try to tell you this is because the Bugs were missing a lot of open looks, but that doesn't give the Nuggets defense the credit they deserve.

David West finished the night 4-16 (25%) after being harassed by Kenyon Martin and Nene all night. We'll find out tonight if it was just an off night for West (like some say) or if the Nuggets have him frustrated with their athletic bigs.

Chris Paul was 7-19 (37%) from the field after forcing some shots he normally wouldn't. Having a shot blocking presence in the lane (Birdman) caused Paul to pull up for short jumpers when clearly a drive to the rim was needed. But remember KMart and Co. did a fine job with hard fouls on CP3 early to make him reconsider his drives later.

Looking over the rest of the box score from Game 1 I don't see any abnormalities with the rest of the Hornets. Peja Stojakovic finished the night 5-10 (3-6 from deep) and scored 13 points ... right on pace with his season average of 13.3 ppg. Rasual Butler finished the night with 8 points and he averaged 8.3 ppg against Denver this season. Call me crazy, but like I thought before this series started ... if Denver can control Paul and West they will win this series.

The other side of the argument is that Chauncey Billups wont score 36 points again. While I will rule nothing out, I do tend to agree. Billups put the team on his back in Game 1 and stated afterwards (reading between the lines) that someone else needs to step up in Game 2.

The beautiful thing for the Nuggets is that they own the firepower to do so. Chauncey will probably see his scoring dip tonight (17.7 ppg this season), but what's going to happen when Melo gets his game going?

The sentiment I've gathered from NOLA Nation is that if Billups is held in check then we'll have a different ballgame. But if Melo can stay out of foul trouble and become who he usually is (25 ppg vs. Hornets) then a new problem arises for the Bugs.

And this is before we mention that Denver only got 16 combined points out of KMart (4), Nene (12), and Anthony Carter (0).

I'm not concerned one-iota if Billups' final stat line doesn't resemble his Game 1 numbers in the points category. After all the Nuggets racked up 53 wins with Billups averaging 17.8 points ... not 36.

 

Tipoff: 8:30 p.m. MDT / TNT & Altitude

Series: Denver leads 1-0

Pregame Notes:

  • In Game 1 Chris "Birdman" Andersen blocked 4 shots ... the Nuggets were 24-6 in the regular season when the Bird swatted 3+ a game
  • The Nuggets single playoff game record for blocked shots is 8 ... set by the now injured Dikembe Mutombo vs. the Utah Jazz on May 12, 1994
  • The Nuggets broke their "Team Single Game Playoff Record" with 11 three-pointers made in Game 1. The previous record was 9 set against the Phoenix Suns on April 30, 1989

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com