Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nuggets vs. Sonics Preview: Trying to Forget the Palace

(Boulder-CO) It was just one game and one loss, but I have to deliver this preview for tomorrow night’s game now because I can’t shake the mental imagery of Rasheed Wallace hitting a 60-foot bank shot to force overtime at the Palace at Auburn Hills last night. The Nuggets will be hosting the Seattle Super Sonics on Wednesday night and will be looking to wash away the pain of the memorable/forgettable overtime loss to the Pistons. And at 35-34 overall on the season with the L.A. Clippers just a game and a half behind them in the eighth and final playoff spot, the Nuggets need to avoid a Toronto-like collapse after the emotional loss at all costs.

The Seattle Super Sonics are a team that can not catch a break this year, and with the recent announcement of Ray Allen due to miss the entire rest of the regular season with bone spurs in his left ankle, things could not be looking bleaker. At a 27-42 overall record, the Sonics are second to last in the Western Conference standings and give up the third highest field goal percentage in the league (Lay-ups, anyone?). In addition, the Sonics have been the losers of seven out of their last nine games.

But what does all this mean for the Denver Nuggets?

Hopefully it means that the Nuggets will come out and be able to start rebuilding their confidence against a team that they should, without a doubt, beat at home. The combination of Iverson and Anthony has not been clicking in the last two games and I would really like to see some sort of order return to that duo’s cohesion. Carmelo has combined to just barely score his season’s average against the Cavs and Pistons and Iverson did not scored more than 20 points in either of those two games despite 20 total assists.

We should also see the return of Eduardo Najera against the Sonics. “Mr. Hustle” does all the intangibles needed to win and doesn’t ask for any recognition. You have got to love a guy like Najera because of his unselfishness and dedication to the little things that always make the biggest differences. Taking charges, diving on the floor for loose balls, and tapping out offensive rebounds are just some of the reasons why I love Eduardo Najera’s throwback style of play and his return alone should be a big morale booster for the Nuggets.

To say that this is a must-win game is probably over emphasizing its importance, but after the kind of collapse the Nuggets showed against the Raptors following a gut-wrenching loss to the Bulls, a solid performance at home would be a sigh a relief for the entire city of Denver. The Nuggets have to learn how to become more even keel when it comes to managing their emotions, both positive and negative, if they are to be sharp when the tumultuous playoffs begin.

Go Nuggets, set up the speed trap for the Super Sonics!


JM said...

I think what works in Denver's favor to win tomorrow are three things that were different from the Chicago loss/Toronto blowout last week.

1. They are playing at home.
Denver has a day to rest, get over the Piston's game, and regroup mentally before they play Seattle, which didn't happen in Toronto.

2. They aren't playing a back-to-back. Denver got into town at 4 am Toronto time after playing in Chicago the night before. They had to be a little fatigued. It's likely what happened to Phoenix when we blew them out a couple of weeks ago.

3. They are playing the hapless Sonics. The Sonics aren't scaring anyone, and with Ray Allen out for the year, I don't anticipate the scoring to come from anyone but Rashard Lewis, which should cause problems offensively for them.

This road trip was a learning experience. I expect Denver to rebound and do some damage over the next 3 weeks of the season.

Sean said...

As much as I hate to see my SuperSonics lose, the Nugs need this win.
They also need to figure out how to keep themselves out of situations where 60 foot prayers can keep them from getting the W.
Watching that shot go in was as painful as watching Manu Ginobli try to play the game of basketball.


Tymes Rhymes said...

I'm pumped for this one, I look for the Nuggets to just lash it out on the undermanned Sonics.

Jason said...

No prayers in this one...Nuggets will win in a blowout I think. They have really been playing solid ball lately. Aside from the Toronto game, they could have easily gone 4-1 on this road trip! To bad it didn't work out that way, but it goes to show you how solidly they have been playing. Two prayers answered for the other teams, none for Denver.

Don't worry fella's, the Basketball Gods will pay us back in the playoffs!!