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Preview: Nuggets at Blazers. Nine, Nine, Nein!

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Nine games left in the 2014-2015 campaign, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Whether or not it's an oncoming train is based entirely on your viewpoint. Tonight, the Nuggets head to Portland with both teams having won last night.

Arron Afflalo and Wesley Matthews. One of these two gents will be in a Trail Blazers jersey tonight.
Arron Afflalo and Wesley Matthews. One of these two gents will be in a Trail Blazers jersey tonight.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Game 74: 2014-15 NBA Season

@

28-45 (11-25 on road)
Series 0-3 Portland
46-25 (28-7 at home)
Saturday, March 28th, 2015
Moda Center - Portland, Oregon
8:00 PM MT
Altitude / 104.3 FM

Ty Lawson PG Damian Lillard
Randy Foye
SG Arron Afflalo
Wilson Chandler
SF Nicolas Batum
Danilo Gallinari
PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Kenneth Faried C Robin Lopez
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs Blazer's Edge

Darrell Arthur (shoulder) is day-to-day

Injuries

Wesley Matthews (achilles) is out for the season

The Nuggets have this Trail Blazer middle to a Jazz sandwich. The Nuggets head to Utah to wrap up that season series on Wednesday.
Etc... Portland is only two games ahead of the L.A. Clippers in the win column, and as the current four seed, has a lot to fight for to keep home court in the first round.

The Denver Nuggets celebrate a return to the win column as they travel to the second half of a back-to-back against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers come off a game of their own last night, a fourth-quarter comeback against the Phoenix Suns. It was Portland's second fourth-quarter save in a row, and both against teams in the Nuggets current stratosphere (Utah being the other), so their recent play says the Nuggets may be catching Portland at a decent time, with a chance to steal one if the Blazers continue napping.

But a lot of that depends on which Nuggets team takes the floor for Melvin Hunt tonight. Though the team has played a much more inspired brand of basketball sine Hunt took over, there have been some bumps along the way... Take this recent sampling:

  • Exhibit A: The second game of a recent four-game winning streak. (interesting fact: In his year-and-two-thirds as head coach, Brian Shaw had one seven-game winning streak, and three five-game streaks as well. Those four streaks comprise over a third of his 56 total wins.) The Nuggets took on the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks, and beat them handily in the end - with seven players in double figures, 115-102.
  • Exhibit C: Let's keep streaking. Game four of that series, Denver went on the road to a gritty overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans, stealing some thunder from Anthony Davis' near quadruple-double.
  • Exhibit D: Back at the Pepsi Center a couple nights ago, Denver stumbles through an ugly loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, going 0-2 for the season against one of the league's cellar dwellers in the standings. Every strange chemistry experiment Hunt tried that evening seemed to blow up in his face.

A, B, C, and D. Reminds me of a song from my childhood.

Yup. One of these things is certainly not like the others, Nuggets Nation. Depending on which Nuggets team takes the floor tonight, this could be a very fun game this evening. Denver certainly played well against the Jazz last night, led by Ty Lawson's 18 points and nine assists.

A few keys to tonight's game, if the Nuggets are to go back-to-back. Since we played Sesame Street, let's keep the science and education theme going.

A body in motion: Newton would have admired the Nuggets play last night, with the team back up to speed and good distribution habits. Of course, hot shooting didn't hurt a thing.

Redshift: Just like the universe's expansion, the Nuggets spread the floor last night with solid shooting from all over the floor. The Jazz were forced to defend a hotshot Nuggets squad from beyond the arc, leaving the paint wide open most of the night. If the Nuggets can keep Portland's D honest from behind the arc, they could open up the floor against some talented Portland bigs.

Darwin, party of 14, your table is now available: Are the Nuggets the fittest team tonight? Both teams are tired, and could both have a lapse simply due to the rigors of a back-to-back for games 73 and 74 of the season. Being mentally fit is as important tonight as being physically fit if the Nuggets are to have much of any success over these last few games. Believe it or not, Denver has two more back-to-back series this season, with only nine games left on the year. Tonight, just try to outlast the Trail Blazers.

Payback's a bitch: OK, maybe not a scientific law, but... The Nuggets have lost the first three of four games they played against Portland this season. It would be nice to get one back, especially with Arron Affalo in a different uni tonight. I was always a AAA fan, but will admit I was a little perturbed by his pre-trade play this year, especially when he seems to be miraculously coming back to form with Portland.

Winding down, my friends. Nein for nine.

Can we shoulder this load tonight, Nuggets Nation? What do you like in Denver's favor?