Sally Ann Howes sang it best ... "send in the clowns." Luckily for most NBA fans we know where the clowns reside, on TNT's popular studio show before its NBA broadcasts. Get ready for some opinion flip-flopping, depending how the game goes, and please send in the clown himself, Charles Barkely, for tonight's Nuggets vs. Lakers game.
The particulars ...
Denver: 51-27 (32-6 at home, 19-21 on the road)
L.A. Lakers: 55-22 (33-6 at home, 22-16 on the road)
Denver current streak: Won 3. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
L.A. Lakers current streak: Lost 1. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Denver: Kenyon Martin (left knee tendinitis) is out. Chris Andersen (left ankle) is a game-time decision and listed as day-to-day. Chauncey Billups (left quadricep contusion) is probable.
L.A. Lakers: Andrew Bynum (left Achilles strain) is out. Ron Artest (left heel bruise), Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb), Sasha Vujacic (sprained right shoulder), Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) and Kobe Bryant (right index finger) are all probable.
Opposition's Take: Silver Screen and Roll
The talk around the NBA right now is centering around whether or not the Lakers are starting to implode. Well, like the Nuggets without K-Mart, the Lakers are missing a pretty big presence in center Andrew Bynum. Lamar Odom has had to step into the starting lineup recently and that has really weakened the bench of Los Angeles.
What really do the Lakers have to play for right now anyway? The top seed out West goes through L.A. and I don't think Kobe Bryant and Company are too concerned about the Cavaliers potentially having home court if both teams should meet in the NBA Finals. So what is the Lakers motivation right now? Well, at some point the Lakers might want to get rolling to they can head into the post-season with a head of steam.
The Nuggets have found a bit of steam themselves, winners of three straight and coming off a huge comeback win in Oklahoma City just last night. We've often had to say this season that Denver cannot afford to dwell on losses with so many back-to-backs coming their way ... well the same has been true all season of some big wins after the first game of a back-to-back series. Take both of Denver's wins against the Cavs this season ... after winning the first contest against the LeBrons in Denver the Nuggets lost the next night in Sacramento to the lowly Kings. After Denver's big ovetime road win against the LeBrons in Cleveland the Nuggets lost the next night in Washington to the lowly Wizards.
Tonight the Nuggets will again be coming off a huge win, but their opponent is considerably better than the Kings or Wizards. Denver could sure use the win and the Lakers are pretty ripe for the picking as they only need to win one more game to clinch the top spot in the West. I'm sure the Lakers would like to clinch the top spot against the Nuggets and I'm sure the Nuggets would like to win the season series against the Lakers (potentially 3-1).
Like Denver was against the Thunder, the Lakers will be very well rested as they have not played since Sunday when they lost on their home floor to the San Antonio Spurs 100-81. But the full three days off should definitely help the ailing Lakers.
It's always a big game for us Nuggets fans when we face the Lakers and tonight should be no different. Can L.A. clinch the top spot tonight? Can the Nuggets get to 52 wins?
Lots of questions to be answered and I'm sure we'll get plenty of talk out of TNT's studio guys.
Send in the Clowns.
Photo courtesy of AP Photos: Erik S. Lesser