Statistically speaking, there is not even a single major category that the Timberwolves are superior to the Nuggets in. Denver is practically averaging 15 more points a night than Minnesota is, they dish out five more assists, grab almost four more rebounds, and swat better than three more shots.
Furthermore, Denver has already handed the Timberwolves losses all three times these two teams have met this season. On November 2nd, the Nuggets dropped the Wolves at the Target Center, 99-91. The second meeting saw Denver nip Minnesota at Pepsi Center, 99-93, and the most recent Nuggets victory over McHale and co. came again in Minnesota, 118-107. Meaning, a win tonight would give the Nuggets their first season series sweep over the Timberwolves since the 1995-96 season, not to mention just the fourth against Minnesota in team history.
Roster wise, my sources tell me that Kenyon Martin (still recovering from a staph infection on the buttock) will not play tonight. This means that the Nuggets will most likely start Linas Kleiza. LK’s 41 performance was special, I doubt anyone would argue that, but what struck me funny about the outburst the second time I watched it was how Linas started his confidence rolling by taking the ball to the rack. He got to the free-throw line, stuffed a couple home, opened up his outside shot after seeing the ball go through the net a couple of times, and before any of us could add it all up Linas had scored 20 points in the second quarter against the Jazz.
Confidence is a funny thing when it comes to playing basketball. The swagger that it brings can do amazing things for a player’s game. Some guys like AI and his Airness have always played like they were on a different level than their competition, but for guys like Linas to be able to carry over that feeling is invaluable. Linas has all the tools to be a 17-19-point scorer. He’s strong, runs the floor, and can shoot the three, but I think that it’s his confidence that needs the most work. Keep an eye on how the “L Train” plays tonight because he’s sure going to get the minutes.
Now it’s time to fill you in on a couple of tidbits on Marcus Camby that I rounded up from the media notes for tonight’s game available on http://www.nuggets.com/.
And I quote, “Not to downplay the specialness that Dikembe Mutombo had while wearing a Nuggets uniform from 1991-96, but Nuggets center Marcus Camby has looked equally as imposing as Mt. Mutombo on the defensive end so far this season. Thru 37 appearances Camby is on pace to once again lead the NBA in blocked shots (3.97) – his third consecutive season doing so. Not surprisingly, the last player to lead the league in blocks three-straight years was Denver’s Mutombo from 1993-96. To take it one step further, Camby’s BPG average of 3.97 is the highest the NBA has seen since…you guessed it…Dikembe’s 4.49 as a Nugget in 1995-96. Against Utah on 1/17, MC pulled off something that even Mt. Mutombo could not accomplish while anchoring Denver’s defense. Camby tied career-highs of 24 points and 11 blocks against the Jazz, becoming the first Nugget since Wayne Cooper on 12/30/88 to have a double-double that did not include 10+ points or assists. Camby also became just the third player in NBA history to record at least 24 boards and 11 blocks in the same game – joining Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal (28 rebounds and 15 blocks at New Jersey on 11/20/93) and Washington’s Elvin Hayes (27 rebounds and 11 blocks at Detroit on 3/3/78). So far this season Camby is averaging 14.4 rpg (second-best in the NBA), which is by far the highest average of his career. Entering this year Mutombo holds the three highest single-season rebounding averages in Nuggets team history; however, the best he could do was 13.0 during the 1992-93 season. Additionally, the most 20+ rebounding games Mutombo had in a season was seven in 82 appearances in 1994-95. A figure that had been the team record until Camby surpassed that number with a career-best eight already this year, despite having played in just 37 games.”
Pretty amazing career accomplishments for Marcus Camby (who even more amazingly is a player who has never been a NBA All-Star).
But I realize now that I’m not really breaking down tonight’s match up with the Timberwolves any further because… they are already broke! So, let’s just call it at that and get ready for tonight’s game. Anybody going? If so, let me know because I have a secret mission for you.