Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nuggets vs. Grizzlies: Game 45 Preview

(Boulder-CO) I’ll tell you one thing right now, Nuggets Nation. If the Denver Nuggets think that the Grizzlies’ record is indicative of the talent level on this team they have got another thing coming. Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Mike Miller are all very good ball players and should not be slept on. The return of Carmelo tonight would certainly help the Nuggets’ chances, but if Anthony doesn’t play the rest of the Nuggets are going to have to band together to get this win.

With that being said, a loss tonight would be a disaster. It’s one thing to lose to a very talented and red-hot Hornets team sans a superstar, but assuming Carmelo plays tonight, anything but a victory is going to be a real cause for concern. The Nuggets are a better team in every statistical category and a loss tonight would give the Nuggets their worst road losing streak since dropping eight in a row from December 17, 2004 through January 17, 2005. Additionally, the Nuggets have some serious kinks to iron out as they are now 7-13 on the road and have the fewest road victories among any teams with winning records.

Furthermore, Denver is currently in an early, but very tight divisional race and, in the stacked Western Conference, the teams that do not win their divisions are leaving a whole lot to chance concerning their postseason aspirations.

But forget all that for a second and let’s take a look at these Grizzlies.

For starters, Rudy Gay is having an amazing third NBA season by leading this team in scoring and steals at 19.6 points and 1.4 steals per game. He’s getting most of the offensive support from Pau Gasol and Mike Miller who are averaging 18.9 points and 16.7 points per game, respectively. The Grizzlies also have to be pleasantly surprised with the play of rookie guard Juan Carlos Navarro. J.C. is averaging eleven points and two assists in only 13 starts, but from there things start to get a little murky. The Grizzlies have five players averaging more than six points a game which, in turn, tells me they are an inconsistent, young bunch of players that haven’t quite yet learned how to win with any consistency. Which is probably also the main reason why the Grizzlies are a disappointing 13-32 so far this season.

The Nuggets on the other hand are an even stranger animal. So much talent, so many veterans, and so many good things to say about so many individuals, but yet they are still one of the most aggravating and inconsistent teams in the league. Why are they the way they are? The only answer that I can come up with is that while they have some nice pieces to the puzzle there are still so many nagging problems that continue to plague this team. That, and the nagging problems always seem to become distractions and then, unfortunately, they become excuses.

However, there should be no excuses tonight with the Grizzlies. Denver IS the better team, and the Nuggets need to not only prove it to themselves, but also to us, the fans. Teams that should be contended with come late April beat teams like the Grizzlies. Enough said.

Go Nuggets!

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