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Game 73 Preview & Thread: Nuggets at Raptors (5pm MST)

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Law_mediumMuch like Nuggets speedy rookie Ty Lawson ... I have disappeared as of late from the Nuggets landscape. Well, perhaps unlike Lawson, I make my return to Denver Stiffs today.

The particulars ...

Records:
Denver:
47-25 (30-6 at home, 17-19 on the road)
Toronto:
35-35 (23-12 at home, 12-23 on the road)
Denver current streak: Lost 3. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Toronto current streak: Lost 1. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games.
Injuries:
Denver:
Kenyon Martin (left knee tendinitis) and Renaldo Balkman (mid-back strain) are both out tonight.
Toronto: Marco Belinelli (sore lower back) is day-to-day. Hedo Turkoglu (flu) is a game-time decision.

Opposition's Take: Raptors HQ (preview is up)

Let me explain my situation a bit. My last post came on March 15th and I was unable to get recaps up for my last two assignments. My apologies. For the last 27 years I have lived in Colorado and for the last three-years I have been living in downtown Denver. Colorado is my home, all my family lives there (for the most part) and all my friends are scattered around Colorado as well.

I recently accepted a job out of state in Casper, Wyoming (of all places) as the opportunity was just too good to pass up. Sounds pretty crazy as most folks probably look at a move to downtown Denver as the opportunity. So, I uprooted myself from my Colorado roots, packed up, said my goodbyes and hit the road North. I'm really not too far from Denver (about a four-hour drive) and hope to make it to as many playoff games as I can. So, I'm a bit on remote now, but Casper has Altitude-HD and I'm all hooked up to the world wide web and such and ready to get back into this crazy time in Nuggets Nation.

The Nuggets set out on their current five-game road trip by losing to the Milwaukee Bucks at home. Then Denver dropped games in New York and Boston. With three crucial games left on the trip, the Nuggets face the Raptors, Magic and Mavericks in the next four nights. I don't know how the Nuggets will be able to do it, but they have to find a way to win two of these next three-games.

Denver is starting to show major signs of missing Kenyon Martin and rookie Ty Lawson. The good news, Lawson saw 8 minutes of action against Boston. The bad news ... Martin isn't anywhere near being able to return, if he's able to return at all. And even if K-Mart can return ... how effective can he be with the rust and knee still bothering him? Questions that I'm trying my best to avoid answering.

Adrian Dantley has done a pretty nice job filling in for George Karl, but some adjustments need to be made. With Lawson returning to the court we need to see the end of Anthony Carter's minutes. I was a fan of A.C.'s limited minutes with Lawson out, but much like we see with extended A.C. time during games ... his effectiveness has worn itself out.

Another guy who should return to the bench is Malik "Tacos" Allen. I call him Tacos for a reason ... at this point in his career he isn't a contributor to a team that is trying to secure a top playoff seed. Sure, he's seeing limited minutes, but like Karl I see a handful of minutes (to a guy like Allen) coming at the detriment of Johan Petro's time. We all know Petro is not a top tier starter right now, but I would much rather see the athletic Frenchmen in the game.

The talking heads are starting to line up to kiss the Lakers collective asses and crown them as Western Conference champs before the playoffs even begin, as the Nuggets, Mavericks and Jazz are all killing themselves to grab the #2 seed out West. Well, even as grim as things look for the Nuggets right now ... they still have Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith and Nene. Can those four guys be the core that carries Denver farther than they've ever gone before? Time will tell.

If there was a time to "get right" tonight would be that night. The Raptors (35-35) have not been playing their best basketball and are on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference all together as they sit as the #8 seed right now (just 2.5 games ahead of the Bulls).

The month of March hasn't been kind to the Raptors as they are just 4-8 so far this month. Toronto didn't do the Nuggets any favors Wednesday night as they lost to the Utah Jazz 113-87. The Nuggets need a win tonight, but so do the Raptors. This game wont be easy as the Nuggets have to try to defend Chris Bosh without K-Mart. Bosh only put up 13 points against Denver in their 130-112 loss at Pepsi Center back on November 17th. That game back in November may as well have been played in 1998 for all it matters now.

With both teams needing a win the Nuggets should look to Ty Lawson to get things rolling again. At this point in the season nobody can afford to disappear and with a couple rotation adjustments the Nuggets could have a secret weapon re-appear.

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter: Nate_Timmons

AP Photo courtesy of Mel Evans