Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Desperate Utah Beat the Nuggets

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets played tonight as if they were just a slight bit hung over from the Divisional Championship party. It was not only predicted by yours truly to be a loss for the Nuggets, but they didn’t leave any reason for me to sweat it. A desperate Utah Jazz disposed of a lethargic Denver squad 104-83. The good news is that there is no reason to worry for Denver Nuggets fans.

Karl and staff chose to rest Marcus Camby. Without Camby in the middle, the Nuggets are a very vulnerable team. Utah’s big men and their performances illustrate my point beautifully. Okur and Boozer scored 24 and 25 points respectively and Andre Kirilenko added 14. As a team, Utah out rebounded the Nuggets 47 to 33 including an eight board advantage on the offensive glass.

On the opposite end of the gym, the Nuggets were out of sync and looked discombobulated. Carmelo Anthony was the high scorer for Denver, scoring 18. Although five Nuggets did score in double figures, it was an off night collectively. The Nuggets had trouble starting and finishing the fast break. A telling statistic relating to this is the team assists total. Once again, Utah out passed Denver 26 to 22.

Denver played all ten players that logged playing time at least 20 minutes each. This is evidence that the Nuggets are resting their battered and bruised and are coming to the realization that they are going to need to win out the rest of their games and get some help from Memphis to have home court advantage in the playoffs. By the way, Memphis did win tonight making it even harder for the Nuggets to pull off home court if they do meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Expect to see a lot more sitting of starters down the final three game stretch of the regular season. I think that they will probably only play Carmelo Anthony and Andre Miller about 20 minutes against the Kings, and then will probably sit Anthony for the remaining two. Miller has an incredible consecutive games-played streak and will most likely not miss a start, but will have his minutes shaved down.

All is quiet before the storm in Nugget country as of right now. My predictions for the final six are true to the mid waypoint. Unfortunately, it looks as if home court advantage is not going to be in the cards for the Nuggets.

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