Series: Denver leads 3-1 over the New Orleans Hornets
Tipoff: 8:30 p.m. MDT
TV: TNT / Altitude
Home court is a beautiful thing ... to wit:
Denver is 7-10 all-time in game fives, but 5-2 at home in those 17 games. That's a pretty good sign heading into tonight's contest.
Denver's last Game 5 home win came on May 7, 1988 when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics 115-95.
Of course Carmelo Anthony (who I base pretty much everything off since he's the figurehead for this current Nuggets franchise) is 0-4 in game fives, but all of those losses came on the road.
Game 5s during Melo's career:
2004: @ Minnesota 102, Denver 91
2005: @ San Antonio 99, Denver 89
2006: @ L.A. Clippers 101, Denver 83
2007: @ San Antonio 93, Denver 78
Denver was eliminated in each of the games above by a 4-1 margin.
But this season is different. The Nuggets have a chance to turn the tide and be the team to end the Hornets' season.
Keys to the Nuggets victory:
- This cliche is true: There is no such thing as a free lunch. The Hornets are not going to give Denver this game, the Nuggets must earn this win tonight by remaining focused on the Hornets.
- Stomp on the Bugs' throat early. A fast start tonight and continued effort, like in Game 4, could put this series to bed early. The Hornets are ready to quit and the Nuggets should allow TNT's Kenny Smith to send the Bugs fishing tonight.
- Keep up the defensive intensity. In their three wins and even in the game three loss, Denver has played inspired defense. We saw glimpses during the regular season of what this Denver team can do defensively and it's been on display for four games now as the Hornets are averaging just 83 points per game.
- Nothing comes easy. The Nuggets haven't allowed many uncontested shots and have even shown they will get their money's worth by fouling the Hornets with a purpose. That must continue tonight.
- Share the ball. The Nuggets have averaged 26.6 assists in their three wins and 19 in their lone loss. Working for the best available shot not only allows for easy buckets, but can provide confidence for Nene, Chris Andersen, and Kenyon Martin as we saw in game four.
- Work the ball to Nene. The Big Brazilian is coming off a 5-5, 13 point Game 4 and it's no coincidence that feeding Nene the ball early will get him and the rest of the team going. I don't know if Chandler will play much tonight as Byron Scott may look for a spark from Sean Marks (if he's smart anyway) as Chandler is averaging over 4 fouls a game in just 23.5 minutes of floor time.
- Play loose. The Nuggets have a chance to do something tonight that hasn't been done in Denver since 1994 ... that can be a little nerve-wracking, but that is also why the Nuggets brought in the playoff savvy Mr. Big Shot.
If Denver follows these seven steps then the picture above of the dejected Hornets should be seen tonight at the Can as the Nuggets will be continuing on with their playoff journey.