Team Records: Portland (20-17) at Denver (23-16)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Denver -9
Refs: Joe Crawford, Eric Lewis, JT Orr
The Skinny: The Blazers look to bounce back from two straight losses in one of the hardest places to win on the road, Denver. Denver is a league-best 14-2 at home (and only 9-14 on the road) and the thin air of the Mile High City always makes it a tough place for anyone to win. Denver comes into this game on a five-game wining streak, largely coming against teams below .500.
Last Time They Met: Portland beat Denver in a strange game as it held Denver to only one basket outside the paint all game (and that came in the final minute) as Denver broke Portland’s week old record for most 3s attempted without a make.
Projected Nuggets Lineup:
PF: Kenneth Faried (Morehead State, 2nd season) – 12.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, .8 APG
SF: Danilo Gallinari (Italy, 5th season) – 16.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.5 APG
C: Kosta Koufos (Ohio State, 5th season) – 7.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, .5 APG
SG: Andre Iguodala (Arizona, 9th season) – 13.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.5 APG
PG: Ty Lawson (North Carolina, 4th season) – 14.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.8 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?: Denver has won 23 straight home games when they scored 100 points.
Song of the Day: “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh-Just a fun little song about Colorado to get us back into the groove for this one. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), C Meyers Leonard (Achillies)
Re-Evaluating Denver: Who Takes the Last Shot?
One of the problems that teams that lack a true star is that they often struggle when they decide who should take the last shot. In Denver’s case it has often been split among Lawson, Andre Miller and Iguodala. While this can be a strength, because you don’t know whom to pay the most attention to, it can also be a problem since, at times, you need a go to scorer late in games. Yet, on a team that relies so heavily on team play and passing, perhaps this is the best way for the Nuggets. Better to keep your opponent guessing perhaps than always go to the same player every time in the clutch.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Denver’s fast break points. Denver loves to run out on the break and Portland has had a hard time stopping that at times this year. If they can limit Denver to a half-court offense, they will stand a strong chance of winning.
Denver wins if: They score at least 100 points. Denver is the sort of team that can simply outscore you. If the Nuggets hit the century mark, that will almost certainly be enough to secure Denver’s sixth straight win.