Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nuggets vs. Raptors: Game 70 Preview

(Boulder-CO) I've teamed up with Connor Wolfe again of for a couple of questions about today's game. Here are a few of the burning questions Wolfe had for me, and I'm blaming the Easter holiday for not having time to throw any back at Connor. So, here is our conversation in it's entirety. Enjoy the afternoon game and go Nuggets!
CW: Denver is facing the prospect of winning 50 games and missing the playoffs. How frustrating is this idea to Nuggets fans? Would you be a fan of the idea of the top 16 teams making the playoffs regardless of conference?
ND: It's more frustrating to watch this team consistently play down to their competition instead of just dominating like they have shown they can. And no, I do not want to see the playoff format changed. I think the Nuggets are crying foul because they need to resort to the already long laundry list of excuses they have for potentially not making the grade this year. When in fact, if you look, they had their chance to beat the Milwaukee's and the Chicago's of the East to make the cut in their own conference and missed their opportunities.
CW: Carmelo Anthony is quietly putting up some of the best numbers in the NBA yet he's not marketed by the League or corporation. Are the mistakes he's made in the past still hurting his marketability?
ND: Maybe, but his counterpart AI is also having an impact on this as well. AI is playing some of his best basketball in an already shoe-in Hall of Fame career and that is overshadowing 'Melo a little bit. Meanwhile, 'Melo has been nothing but solid gold for the Nuggets and is still the face of this franchise in the Mile High City.
CW: There was talk around the trade deadline that Denver could have obtained Ron Artest but the team wouldn't pull the trigger due to a reluctance on moving Linas Kleiza. Why does the franchise value this role player so much?
ND: At the time, Linas was playing tremendous hoop. Since then, he has had to battle through a couple of twisted ankles and the increased stability of J.R. Smith's play. At the time I was 100% against the trade for Artest, but given the fact that the window to win with AI is going to be narrower than any chance of winning anything big with LK. Now I think myself, and the Nuggets, might have been flawed in our thinking to keep LK for the future when without AI it won't matter how great LK develops down the road.
CW: While J.R. Smith is full of potential he hasn't been able to become the star many envisioned when he was drafted. What's his future with Denver look like?
ND: Hopefully he will stay in Denver. The first 41 games in retrospective and the last half of the season have shown a tremendous growth in J.R. He has abandoned the heat-check three for the most part and has realized that he can go to the rack at almost anytime on almost anybody. With more ball handling work, and more continued patience, I think the Nuggets may be looking at a guy that can give an aging Chucky Atkins a run for his money at the starting point guard spot next season. I've been hard on J.R. in the past, but he has really won me over in the last 30 games.
CW: The last time these two teams met Denver had a convincing victory. *Sigh* What does Toronto need to do to slow down Denver?
ND: Try playing some D!
Go Nuggets!

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