Saturday, December 6, 2008
Game 20: Nuggets @ Kings
(Boulder-CO) There are three things I will be looking for tonight starting with the Nuggets resiliency. After their worst performance against the Spurs, it will be very telling by how the Nuggets play early in the game as to where this team is mentally. My hope is that the complete let down that was Thursday night was an anomaly and the Nuggets will extend Sacramento's home losing streak to a franchise worst record eight straight games.
In addition to the seven-game home losing streak, the Kings have lost seven in a row overall and nine of their last ten.
The second area I am concerned with the Denver Nuggets is defensively. Kevin Martin can flat out score and he has been known to put points up in bunches against the Nuggets. Last year, despite only playing in one match-up with the Nuggets, Martin lit Denver like a Christmas tree for 36 points in a win for the Kings. Dahntay Jones will draw the initial assignment of handling him, but J.R. Smith should not be fooled by the unorthodox shooting form of Martin's and leave him unattended when he inevitably plays the lion's share of the minutes at shooting guard. Francisco Garcia is the other player that concerns me. Garcia averaged 20.7 points per game coming off the bench in three contests with the Nuggets last season and will probably start tonight for John Salmons, who is coming off a groin injury but is expected to be available.
Finally, the last area of worry for me and the Nuggets tonight is and should be the pace of the game. In Thursday's game, the Nuggets of yesteryear surfaced and the results against the seasoned, and now healthy, Spurs was disastrous. Against San Antonio, you can not expect lackadaisical defense to be counter balanced with the fastbreak or one-pass jumpers. However, against the Kings who are allowing the third worst points per game allowed (105.1), the Nuggets might be able to push the pace of the game and when available crank up the fastbreak to put a nice total on the scoreboard.
I'm going into tonight's game with no expectations. The Chauncey Billups honeymoon is officially over and the rest of the season starts tonight. The 13-7 Nuggets are off to a nice first quarter start to the season, but the final 62 games are where the pretenders are separated from the contenders. Right now, the Nuggets are on pace to win 50 games and in my opinion really haven't realized their potential as to how good this team could be.
Say it with me now...