Team Records: Denver (20-20) at Portland (31-11)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on TNT, Radio on 620 AM
TNT Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Craig Sager
Vegas Line: Portland -7
Refs: Rodney Mott, Derrick Collins, Kevin Cutler
The Skinny: The Blazers return home after a 2-2 four game road trip against the West’s elite as they face the up and down Nuggets. Denver has had a losing streak of eight in a row this season and two winning streaks of five or more. The Nuggets enter the game having lost two straight, although their last win was at Golden State just over a week ago. They are not to be overlooked.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers jumped out a 14-point halftime lead and cruised home, handily winning their first game in Denver since 2007. Aldridge led a balanced Blazers attack with 25 points in the win.
Projected Nuggets Lineup:
PF: Kenneth Faried (Morehead State, 3rd Season) – 10.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, .9 APG
SF: Wilson Chandler (DePaul, 7th season) – 13.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.6 APG
C: JJ Hickson (NC State, 6th season) – 11.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.2 APG
SG: Randy Foye (Villanova, 8th season) – 10.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
PG: Ty Lawson (North Carolina, 5th season) – 18 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 8.9 APG
Player to Watch: Ty Lawson (pictured at right) – In a 2009 draft loaded with quality point guards, Lawson was perhaps the best steal of the draft. The sixth point guard selected (in a first round that featured ten point guards), Lawson has proven to be every bit the player many thought he was at North Carolina. A lightning fast guard with the ability to both slash to the hoop and hit the outside shot, Lawson can be devastatingly effective on the offensive end. He is a decent defender but standing only 5’-11” can sometimes be overwhelmed by bigger players. Still, he appears to be a budding star and one that we should not be surprised to see in the all-star game a few times before his career is done.
Did You Know?: The Blazers-Nuggets series has been dominated by the home team. Portland is 59-20 at home against Denver, while only 24-54 on the road in Denver.
Song of the Day: “Kaya” by Bob Marley. In honor of Colorado’s newly legal drug, you have to go with some Bob Marley. Enjoy:
Denver: Out-SF Danilo Gallinari (ACL), C JaVale McGee (Tibia), PF Darrell Arthur (Hip)
Re-Evaluating Denver: Don’t Mess with Andre Miller
Look Andre Miller is not the easiest player for coaches to get along with. Dre goes his own way, says silly things in the press but the players love him and he delivers on the court. Dre hasn’t played since December 30th against the Miami Heat and its not because he’s hurt (he’s never hurt) but because rookie head coach Brian Shaw has no idea of how to properly use Dre. Yes statistically Dre is having a not so great year but you can’t tell me that he couldn’t be a better backup PG to Lawson then Nate Robinson. Here’s hoping Dre either gets back in the game for Denver or gets shipped out to a place that can appreciate his amazingly consistent and steady style of play.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Denver’s 3 point makes. When Denver wins games this year, like Portland they make a lot of 3s. If the Blazers can limit those makes Thursday, they should win.
Denver wins if: They score at least 110 points. Denver is not a very good defensive team. They will have to win this game on offense if they are to prevail Thursday in Portland.