Team Records: Portland (38-18) at Denver (25-30)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -2.5
Refs: Zach Zarba, Curtis Blair, Derrick Collins
The Skinny: The Blazers look to build off of an impressive come from behind win against the Wolves as they travel to Denver for a northwest division showdown. The Nuggets have been reeling as of late, losing seven of their last eight. Denver’s only win during that span comes over the league-worst Bucks.
Last Time They Met: Aldridge had a monster game with 44 points and 13 rebounds, including scoring Portland’s final fifteen points of the game as the Blazers overcome a feisty Nuggets team at home.
Projected Nuggets Lineup:
PF: Kenneth Faried (Morehead State, 3rd Season) – 10.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Wilson Chandler (DePaul, 7th season) – 14 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG
C: Timofey Mozgov (Russia, 4th season) – 8.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, .7 APG
SG: Randy Foye (Villanova, 8th season) – 12.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.1 APG
PG: Aaron Brooks (Oregon, 6th season) – 7.2 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 2 APG
Player to Watch: Wilson Chandler (pictured at right) – Wilson Chandler is an average NBA player who puts up big numbers for Denver at times because, hey, someone has to score points. Chandler has not had the easiest go of it in his career, playing on some really bad Knicks teams the first several years of his career, being moved in the Carmelo Anthony trade, getting hurt and missing much of the previous two seasons, but he has settled into a nice role in Denver. Chandler can hit from anywhere on the court but where he most likes to shoot is from deep, with just under half of his shot attempts this season coming from behind the three point line. He can get away with this, along with his below average rebounding, because Denver has Faried and Hickson to do that work instead. Chandler would probably not be a starter on a playoff team but that’s okay, he’s good enough to do well in Denver.
Did You Know?: Denver is only 14-13 at home this season, Denver hasn’t finished below .500 at home on the year since the 2002-03 season.
Song of the Day: “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin played its first-ever North American show in 1968 in Denver so it seemed appropriate to use one of their classics. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), C Meyers Leonard (Ankle), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Groin)
Denver: Out-SF Danilo Gallinari (ACL), C JaVale McGee (Tibia), PF Darrell Arthur (Hip), PG Nate Robinson (ACL), Doubtful-PG Ty Lawson (Ribs)
Re-Evaluating Denver: A Chef’s Nightmare
Anyone who has ever cooked more than a few things has experienced that horrible moment when you want to make something, you look in the pantry and you find a whole mess of mismatched ingredients. You try to make something, and sure its unique but more often than not its an experiment gone terribly terribly wrong. Such is the case for the Denver Nuggets. They weren’t all that well put together to begin with but with all their recent injuries trying to cook up a winning combination against any team better than the Bucks is nearly impossible. Outside of a OT loss to the Suns, all of Denver’s recent losses have been lopsided, all by double digits and often by 20 or more. It is indeed a chef’s nightmare, or more accurately a coach’s nightmare, for the Nuggets.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They land the knockout punch early. This is a Nuggets team that is used to getting blown as of late. If Portland can get up big on Denver early, they just might fold.
Denver wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. This is not a very good defensive team and even without Aldridge Portland should be able to score on Denver fairly easily. The Nuggets will have to avoid that fate if they want to have a chance at winning this one.