When you look at this Charlotte team the first thing that comes to mind is that this is some kind of college All-America team. Of their seven players averaging double-digits in scoring the list has an average age of about 25. It includes three players that are 22, (May, Felton, and Morrison), and two 24-year olds in Okafor and Gerald Wallace.
Charlotte has lost three of its last four games with their only win coming in the form of an OT victory against the Lakers. They average around 95 points per game and if the Nuggets are to win they need to jump out to an early lead and keep extending that lead throughout the game. I do not think that tonight’s game is going to get out of hand all at one time, and that is why I think that if the Nuggets can just play three to four points better in each quarter they will find themselves comfortably in the lead around the mid way point of the fourth. Charlotte has one great defensive stopper in Gerald Wallace, but will probably have a hard time containing Allen Iverson and J.R. Smith if the Nuggets will play sound team basketball.
The player the Nuggets are going to have to put in check is Emeka Okafor. The third year pro is having a breakout season averaging 15 points, nearly 12 boards, and three blocks. His offensive game doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but he is a meat and potatoes kind of player that just gets it done. My prescribed strategy would be to aggressively take the ball to the rack early and try to hit the big man with a couple of quick fouls to disrupt the flow of the game from coming to him. If he is over on the sidelines, the Bobcats become much more vulnerable inside and the Nuggets will be able to exploit that with their front three.
My last point of emphasis is that Allen Iverson has to have a bounce-back game from his 18-point performance against the Nets. He finished that game 6-19 as a result of too many contested jumpers and I would like to see him eclipse the ten assist mark against the ‘Cats. Such a mark he hasn’t met or passed since last Tuesday against the Sonics and surprise, surprise that was the last Nuggets win.
The Charlotte Bobcats are a team that a playoff-bound team like the Nuggets is supposed to beat at home. It discerns me that the Nuggets are only 12-11 at Pepsi center because the upper echelon teams in the NBA take care of business in their own building. Tonight’s game should be a victory if the Nuggets play the way the are capable of. They are a superior team on paper, it is at home, and they have lost their last two games. If that doesn’t get them up and ready to play, I don’t know what will. Time to right the ship, men. Take care of dem ‘Cats!