Team Records: Denver (36-22) at Portland (26-30)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on ESPN/CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Denver -2
Refs: Danny Crawford, John Goble, Derek Richardson
The Skinny: The Blazers look to knock off the hot Nuggets in the latest game in a series that has long been dominated by the home teams. The Nuggets have won only 19 times in Portland while the Blazers have won just 23 times in Denver. The Nuggets overall have been a great team at home (nine wins in a row in Denver) but a very poor road team, losing four of their last five road games, with their only road win coming in Charlotte.
Last Time They Met: In a great game that was thrilling from the tip to the final buzzer, the Blazers forced OT but in the end the Nuggets just made one more play and walked out with the win in Denver.
Projected Nuggets Lineup:
PF: Kenneth Faried (Morehead State, 2nd season) – 12.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Danilo Gallinari (Italy, 5th season) – 16.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.4 APG
C: Kosta Koufos (Ohio State, 5th season) – 8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, .4 APG
SG: Andre Iguodala (Arizona, 9th season) – 13.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.9 APG
PG: Ty Lawson (North Carolina, 4th season) – 16.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 7.1 APG
Player to Watch: Andre Iguodala (pictured below) – Iggy is of course well known, especially among Blazer fans, since he was seen a few years ago as a possible trade target for the team. Yet, for whatever reason, this has been Iggy’s worst season statistically since his second year in the league. His numbers are down across the board, his FT shooting, never great to begin with, is now at 59% and he is turning the ball over way too often. There is some indications that this is improving, as he is shooting 56% this month but we need to see more evidence before we know that he is back to being the player we say only last year in Philly.
Did You Know?: George Karl recently passed Larry Brown for sixth all time in NBA coaching wins, with 1110. Next up is Phil Jackson with 1155.
Song of the Day: “Because I Got High” by Afroman-In honor of Colorado (and Washington) legalizing the recreational use of marijuana Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles)
Denver: Questionable- SF Danilo Gallinari (Thigh)
Re-Evaluating Denver: Home is Where the Wins Are
When the Nuggets posted an 18-15 road record last year, it marked the first time in franchise history the team had a winning road record. While the Nuggets have always counted on Denver’s thin air tiring opponents out and providing a unique home court advantage, they have never been a good road team. This year is more of the same for the Nuggets, who win home games by a whopping 8 points per game, one of the top margins in the league. On the road, however, that margin drops to six tenths of a point and its only positive at all because Denver (with its 12-19 road record) has a couple blowouts in there. If the Nuggets want to become a title contender, they need to start being able to win away from Denver.
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 a rare win in Portland.