Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nuggets vs. Bucks Preview

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets have not won back-to-back games since going on a five-game winning streak that started on January 14th. Tonight presents a chance to at least win two in a row at the cost of the slumping Bucks who have a record 3-16 since the turn of the new year. Battered and bruised, I like our chances of a win tonight.

The Bucks are still without their main offensive weapon, Michael Redd. That leaves Mo Williams as their best scorer and he is coming off a great showing in his last game. Mo-Will scored 38 points with five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in a loss to Miami that dropped the Bucks to 19-31 overall. The other Bucks the Nuggets will have to keep their eyes on will be Charlie Villanueva and the familiar Earl Boykins.

Villanueva is a very active rebounder despite missing some games this year due to injury and was a major pick-up for the Bucks in this past offseason from the Raptors. Earl on the other hand, is the epitome of active. He never stops running, is without a doubt the quickest man on the floor, and can be a very deadly offensive threat if his mid-range jumper is falling. We have all seen nights where Earl went for thirty points for the Nuggets, so Denver will have to make sure that in this reunion he does not get off early or get hot late.

The last thing you have to know when going into a game against the Milwaukee Bucks is that they have absolutely no blocking presence. Not a single player, even the 7’ Andrew Bogut or the 6’11” Dan Gadzuric, averages even a single block per game. The Nuggets would be properly advised to not settle for mid to long range jumpers tonight and to get things going to the goal early and often. Denver has the finishers (‘Melo, Nene, Kleiza, and Smith) that can all penetrate off the dribble and if they focus their offense in a capacity that is rooted around slashing, dishing, and getting to the free-throw line. Denver should be in a position to win this game on the road.

It would seem as if the worst is behind the Nuggets at this point and as the games keep rolling along Denver will only continue to become healthier and more cohesive. Marcus Camby (hand and groin), Nene (lingering effects of season-ending knee surgery from last season), AI (twisted ankle), Steve Blake (who gets my tough guy award for continuing to play through 12 stitches in his lip from a Ron Artest elbow from the top rope), and Carmelo (mangled shooting finger) have all had to deal with nagging injuries so far this year. When this team gets all of its pieces sorted out and put back together I still feel that they can be a dangerous match-up for any NBA team come playoff time, but until then Denver just needs to concentrate on moving up a couple of spots in the seeding to try and gain a more favorable position come late April. Go Nuggets, bag some Bucks!

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