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Nuggets at Trail Blazers preview: First big test (8pm MST)

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The Nuggets have spoiled the fans with two blowout wins early this season. Tonight, the Nuggets face their biggest test so far against a talented and well coached team in Portland, on a second night of a back to back no less.

The season begins now.

The particulars...

Game: 3
Records: Denver 2-0 (1-0 on the road), won 2 straight
Portland 2-0 (2-0 at home) won 2 straight
Injuries: Denver (none), Portland (none)
Television: Altitude TV

Season Series 2010-11: 2-2

Opposition's Take: Blazers Edge

The Rundown...

Coming off a blowout victory over the Utah Jazz last night, the Nuggets must travel to Portland to play a Blazers team that has a day of rest between games. Make no mistake, this is a well coached and solid team all around. Nate McMillan seems to get the most out of his players, and every one of the starting five unit can be called anywhere from solid to very good. This will be a very tough test for a somewhat tired Nuggets team (although, most of the Nuggets players were on the court in the 25 min range, only Rudy Fernandez went 30 mins) against a Blazers squad that is one of the most well-rounded in the Northwest Division.

The Blazers

Gerald Wallace came to Portland via a trade last season with the Charlotte Bobcats. My fellow Stiffs seem to have been drooling over Wallace for a long time. With good reason, he is a tough minded defensive player with good offensive skills to compliment. He added a good level of toughness to the Blazers last season, and will probably get even better as this year progresses. He will be a particularly tough match-up for the Nuggets.

LaMarcus Aldridge came in to his own last season. Blossoming into a dynamic offensive post player with a couple of new face up moves. This made the Blazers a more potent offensive team in the half court set, and catapulted Aldridge into the upper rungs of Western Conference power forwards. He will match up with Nene most likely and as I recall from last season those contests were very fun to watch.

Marcus Camby and Raymond Felton are both former Nuggets. Both at interesting points in their career. At this point it's clear Camby is playing out the end of this years (and yes, he still has that ugly 18 foot jump shot) but is still a great weak-side defender with shot blocking ability. You know, Chris Andersen used to be like that. Felton is still at the beginning of his career, and adds an element of speed to the Blazers that they didn't have the last couple seasons. I always liked Ray, and I hope he does well in Portland.

The Blazers have solid depth at most positions and should pose a very interesting challenge to these Nuggets. Can the Nuggets depth overcome the Blazers depth? With Nicolas Batum (another Stiffs favorite) and Wesley Matthews the Blazers can also shoot the ball, making this game a very interesting early-season issue for the Nuggets.

Nuggets of Wisdom

The Nuggets must reach deep into their bench to provide a spark on a second night of a back to back. It's imperative that, if Birdman isn't cutting it, Coach George Karl insert Kosta Koufos or play the rookie Kenneth Faried. Bird has his typical early-season woes and he was abused by both Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter last night.

The key match-up will be Danilo Gallinari vs Gerald Wallace. Last season Gallo had probably his best game as a pro against the Blazers in Portland...but Wallace was in street clothes on the bench at the time. I'm curious to see Gallo exploit his fantastic passing ability against the Blazers and see if he can keep adding to his already dynamic ability to score. On the defensive end, well, Gallo tries. He's not the sieve that Melo was, so don't expect Wallace to get as many easy points as he did against Melo.

Ty Lawson vs. Raymond Felton? Yes please. Looking forward to that one too. Should be a fun game folks. What do you think the key's to tonight's will be? Who will be the player the Nuggets need most to beat a well rested Blazers team?

Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78

mortonagency@juno.com