A www.nuggetshoops.com reader is suggesting that George Karl may start Steve Blake tonight and leave the ice cold shooting of Diawara and Smith on the bench. This would not be a bad move in my assessment, regardless of the fact that the Nuggets have changed their starting line-up more than ten times since the suspensions transpired, because it gives Iverson the maneuverability to play the two spot and move freely without the ball. Blake is more than capable of handling all the pressure that Portland wants to throw at him in the backcourt and he should be juiced up to play against a former team.
The Trailblazers are a pretty easy team to figure out in all honesty. Their scoring and rebounding bulk is managed by Zach Randolph, Jared Jack is dishing a handful of assists every night, and the Nuggets just have to keep an eye on Joel Przybilla when driving to the rack. They do not have any set guys that are going to kill you night-in and night-out with huge numbers, but they do have a bunch of players that contribute equally. They nearly have five guys averaging better than seven points, so if the Nuggets can just keep Randolph around 20, they should be alright as long as they keep everyone else in check.
I am lobbying for Reggie Evans to play far more than his average 20 minutes tonight against the Trailblazers. I think that he is the only guy we have that can realistically match-up with Z-Ran, and to be quite frank with you, should get more minutes regardless. He is fourth overall, second when you take out two guys that only play a combined eight minutes on average, in rebounds per 48 minutes at a wicked clip of 20.3 boards a game. Granted his offensive abilities are limited, but isn’t that what we landed AI for? Isn’t that why we maneuvered for J.R.? And isn’t that why we all love Carmelo? We need to start playing guys that do not care about touches on the offensive end and who roll up their sleeves protecting our basket. Reggie is one of those guys and I can guarantee you that he will not be launching any flat-footed threes (as I look in Najera‘s direction)…
I love Eduardo Najera’s hustle, but after a while I just get sick of the lack of tangible numbers he puts up. They ALL hustle, folks, and it is time that George Karl gives the guys that are being more productive a larger slice of the pie. I personally would like to see the starting five of AI, Blake, DerMarr Johnson (for defensive purposes), Evans, and Camby tonight, although it’s not going to happen. DJ will most likely not get off the bench, just like against the Rockets, while Karl watches everyone else post grotesque shooting percentages instead of even thinking of rolling the dice.
So here is what it all boils down to, the Nuggets are like a badly wounded animal that is cornered and defending their young. If there was ever a game that was both winnable, and drastically critical this is that game. I’m predicting the Nuggets put up a crazy intense showing, maybe even draw a couple of technicals, and win against the Trailblazers. Period and point in case!