Monday, December 15, 2008
Game 24: Nuggets @ Mavericks
(Boulder-CO) Tonight the Nuggets travel to Dallas to meet with the Mavs for their second game of the season. The first time the Nuggets and Mavericks faced-off it was Chauncey's Denver homecoming and the Nuggets won, 108-105. However, this time the Mavs have three players averaging 20+ points per game, but will be one short tonight due to Josh Howard's mysterious ankle injury. Regardless, the Nuggets will need a better effort than in the first two meetings of these teams to win their fourth straight game.
The Mavericks, since starting the season 2-7, have won eleven out of their last 13 games largely in part to the tremendous play of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry with either member of the Mavericks one-to-two punch has led the team in scoring in all 13 of their last games. Furthermore, Dirk is coming off a season-high 46 points against the Thunder and is averaging 32.7 points during the Mavericks current seven-game homestand.
As I eluded to, the Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard all averaging over 20 points per game, but from their things really tail off. Jason Kidd is Dallas' next highest scoring threat at 9.7 ppg and better than eight assists a night before seven players pick up the crumbs. To me, that means the Nuggets should defensively key those three players in an attempt to make the rest of the Mavs try and beat them. Hopefully, guys like Brandon Bass, Eric Dampier, and Gerald Green will be unfamiliar with the role of go-to scorer to the effect that Denver will not have to struggle down the stretch to get the W.
In a perfect world things would be that easy, but against the Mavs in Dallas I'm not betting on it.
The Nuggets have been historically hard pressed to leave the city of Dallas with W's. Denver has just three victories in the last 24 visits to the Big D despite six victories in the last seven games against the Mavericks overall.
I'm especially excited for tonight's match-up between Eric Dampier and Nene. Dampier, who is often times the brunt of hip-hip punchlines, is far too slow to handle Nene face-up and the pure amount raw power between both of these men in the low blocks is going to be tremendous. Defensively, Nene will really have to concentrate on finding Dampier and putting a body on him when the ball gets put on rim because Dampier is the Mavericks leading offensive rebounder and is known to use all of his 265 lbs to position himself for offensive boards and easy put backs.
Historically, Chauncey Billups has his way with Jason Kidd defensively so I'm not so worried about J-Kidd getting things going on the offensive end, but he is streaky and when left alone to shoot a quasi-set shot Kidd has been known to get hot from three. Also, I happen to know from international competition that Carmelo loves to use his speed against Dirk so look for 'Melo to lure Nowitzki out with the dribble and then to penetrate. Plus, any foul trouble 'Melo can get Dirk into directly benefits the Nuggets by eliminating Dallas' main option.
Tonight sets the tone for the rest of this six-game, nine-night adventure the Nuggets are now on. Take care of business tonight and ride the bull of a four-game winning steak into Houston tomorrow is the prescription.