For starters, Denver is the second worst team in the league turning over the ball. The Nuggets average 16.6 give-aways a night. Only the Seattle Supersonics are sloppier (16.8 tpg) and they are definitely going to be a lottery team again next year. Maybe this is attributed to having two of the game's best one-on-one options in Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, but it is also an aspect of Denver’s problems that is contributing to their rapidly approaching mediocrity.
Next item under the microscope is how Denver has no consistent third offensive threat. Anthony leads the team with 25.3 points per game, while Iverson is averaging 24.9, but then there's a big drop-off to J.R. Smith who ranks third with 11.6 points per game, but is doing so by scoring 20 one game and then being all but non-existent the next. This leaves the Nuggets with a guessing game as to who is going to step up when the opposing team double teams ‘Melo and AI routinely as they have been for much of the season and will most likely continue to do for the rest of both men’s careers. LK has been a no-show for the last week and a half, Kenyon Martin’s consistency has been somewhat like J.R.’s this season, and without Nene or Chucky Atkins the options begin to get real scarce on George Karl’s bench.
Now for even worse news pertaining specifically to tonight’s game.
The Nuggets have lost five straight games at Dallas since 2004, and to add insult to injury, have lost the last 18 of 19 games against the Mavericks since 1997. The Mavericks weren’t even good back in the late 90’s, although they did have the "Triple J Ranch" with Jamal Mashburn, Jason Kidd, and Jim Jackson, but Denver has never been able to travel to Dallas and get the job done. Furthermore, the Nuggets are 2-3 on the tail end of back-to-back games which includes losses to the Pacers and Rockets and the Mavericks are 2-2 in the same scenario and are coming off a nail biting loss last night to the Spurs, 97-95.
My prediction is the Nuggets lose by eight because Dallas is just too deep, talented, and healthy. The Mavericks have four players averaging better than 14 points per game and shoot 84% from the free-throw line. The Nuggets have only two players averaging more than twelve points per game and shoot 73% from the free-throw line. Avery Johnson is going to earn his money as coach while George Karl patiently sucks on candy all night and if the game is close expect coaching to play an intricate part in the outcome.
I doubt we'll win, but as always... Go Nuggets!