Beasley_mediumThe Nuggets have started the season off in blazing fashion, tonight they are in Miami to face the Heat. The Nuggets are riding an eight game winning streak against Dwayne Wade’s team, their longest against any Eastern Conference team, and have a chance to even up their overall series record against Miami tonight (22-23 all-time).



Denver: 5-0
(Key wins: vs. Blazers and Jazz)
Miami: 4-1
(Key wins: vs. Wizards and Bulls … loss vs. Phoenix)
Time and TV:
Game starts at 5:30 p.m. Mountain and can be seen on Altitude 2
Denver – Joey Graham: Day-to-Day with a sprained toe (was inactive against the Nets)
Miami – Daequan Cook is questionable for tonight’s game (shoulder)


First things first … The J.R. Smith countdown … 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Smith will be returning to action after just two more games.



Let's break this preview down old school style … some head-to-head matchup breakdowns!

Point Guard: Chauncey Billups vs. Mario Chalmers
I liked Chalmers coming out of Kansas and while he is developing nicely in Miami, he’s not Billups … not yet. The Alaskan born Chalmers is scoring 8 points per game on the season and is not asked to do too much for Miami on the offensive end. Chalmers is big enough at 6’1” and 190 pounds to have a nice size matchup with Billups, but the savvy veteran should get the best of this matchup. Advantage: Nuggets.

Shooting Guard: Anthony Carter vs. Dwayne Wade
Um … uh … Carter used to play for the Heat!
Advantage: Heat.

Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony vs. Quentin Richardson
Q-Rich is playing out of position here … at 6’6” and 228 pounds Q could be in for a long night on the defensive end if he’s matched up on Melo for extended time. Richardson used to be an athletic freak, but injuries have slowed him a bit and Melo’s quick first step could set up for some nice blow-by plays and wide open jumpers. Look for Miami to double-team Melo tonight. On offense, Q is mainly a catch-and-shoot guy … unless he feels like he can dominate his defender, then we’ll see Q get out and run a little bit and even start taking his man to the rack. Quentin is starting to gel in Miami. In his last two games he’s put up 18 and 19 points and he’s connecting on and putting up a lot of three-point attempts (4-9 vs. Phoenix and 5-7 vs. the Wizards). It’ll be important for Denver to not leave Q open, but Melo should dominate this guy who was traded roughly 46 times this offseason. Advantage Nuggets.

Power Forward: Kenyon Martin vs. Michael Beasley
This is a perfect matchup for K-Mart. Beasley isn’t a beast on defense and he’s not ultra-aggressive on the offensive end. Martin should dominate Beasley on the defensive end … Kenyon should used his superior strength to bully the youngster and could make him a non-factor if he can get him out of the game from a mental standpoint. It will be fun to see how the recently troubled Beasley reacts to K-Mart’s style and how much fight he has tonight. Advantage: Nuggets.

Center: Nene vs. Jermaine O’Neal
O’Neal, like K-Mart, has been talking about how much better he feels physically this season. It has showed early as O’Neal or HEAD as I call him (guy’s dome is massive) has played with more quickness and hops than he has the past few years. But O’Neal suffered a broken nose against the Suns on November 3rd and has complained about stamina issues with the injury. Nene has had success when he gets involved in the game early and Denver tries to work the ball into him knowing this. I think Nene is playing at his best after a quick fast break dunk or two and really starts feeling like part of the offense. This is a nice matchup for Nene as O’Neal, with good size, is not a physically dominating guy. For some reason whenever I see O’Neal play he looks like a left-handed player … it’s strange to me that he’s right-handed – I’m not sure what this means, but figured I’d throw it out there. Advantage: Even.

Here are the names Miami is going to throw at Denver off the bench: Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Carlos Arroyo and Dorell Wright. Haslem is leading the bench by averaging 12 points per game. Basically, Miami doesn’t have a bench. Joel Anthony can block some shots, Haslem can score and rebound a little bit, Arroyo isn’t going to kill you and Wright isn’t either. Not having last season’s NBA All-Star’s Three-Point shooting champ Daequan Cook hurts the Heat … James Jones, making $4.3 million this season, can’t seem to stay healthy or get into the game. The Nuggets feature Ty Lawson, Double-A and Birdman off the pine and they have been playing very well thus far for the Nuggets. Lawson is coming off his new career high of 23 points and Afflalo has found a rhythm as well. It’ll be interesting to see if Graham plays and who Karl will turn to … BALKMAN … if Graham doesn’t play. Advantage: Denver.


The Nuggets have had success in Miami (winners of their last four) and now that I've officially jinxed the team I expect the Nuggets to win again tonight. Keeping Wade under control will be key and this game will be Denver's first true test of this six-game roadie.


Opposition's take: Peninsula is Mightier




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Photo courtesy of Getty Images: Scott Cunningham