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Nuggets/Bucks: Preview

Nuggets (33-21, 11-15 road, 8th West) @ Bucks (20-35, 14-11 home, 12th West)

Gametime: 7:30 pm CT
TV: FSN Wisconsin/League Pass/Free NBA Broadband
Radio: 620 WTMJ/Stream Free @NBA.com

Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (101.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 29th (107.9), Rebounding 19th (.500 rr), Pace 24th (92.7)
Nuggets Stats: Offense 12th (104.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 5th (101.1), Rebounding 20th (.494 rr), Pace 1st (101.6)

Bucks Lineup: Mo Williams / Michael Redd / Desmond Mason / Charlie Villanueva / Andrew Bogut
Nuggets Lineup: Anthony Carter / Allen Iverson / Carmelo Anthony / Kenyon Martin / Marcus Camby

Bucks Injuries: Ramon Sessions is out with a broken left hand.
Nuggets Injuries: Nene Hilario is out after tumor removal surgery. Chucky Atkins is out after undergoing hernia surgery. Steven Hunter is out with knee inflammation.

07/08 Series: Nuggets 1-0. The Nuggets won 125-105 in Denver on Dec. 26.

Key Points:

  • The Nuggets returned from All-Star weekend with a 124-118 win over the Celtics on Tuesday. The devastating offensive duo of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony combined for 57 points on 33 shots. Against the top rated defense in the NBA, the Nuggets had no problem scoring, scoring 36 points in both the first and fourth quarter. Yesterday however the Nuggets lost 135-121 to the Bulls. Ben Gordon poured in 37 points off the bench while J.R. Smith exploded for 43 points as a sixth man.
  • These high scoring games are partially a reflection of the Nuggets playing at the fastest pace in the NBA, averaging over 106 possessions per game.
  • The Bucks lost 127-100 to the Pistons last night. They were outscored 32-11 in the second quarter. In the first matchup, the Nuggets outscored the Bucks 40-21 in the second quarter.
  • Andrew Bogut, who scored just two points in the final three quarter against the Pistons last night, scored just six points the first game against the Nuggets. Last season Bogut averaged 8.5 points on 30.4 % shooting against the Nuggets.
  • Charlie Villanueva is averaging 13.5 points and 8.0 rebounds on 47.1 % shooting as a starter. Here's are a couple more interesting trends: he's made 17 of his last 18 free throws and zero of his last 18 three pointers.
  • Carmelo Anthony has scored 29 points each of his past two games against the Bucks. The Bucks have spent February trying to limit opposing team's star small forwards such as Tayshaun Prince, Peja Stojakovic, Corey Maggette, Josh Howard, and Rudy Gay. Stojakovic burned the Bucks for a game-winning three pointer and Gay scored an efficient 21 points, but the overall results could be worse. Opposing starting small forwards this month are averaging 12.6 points (44-94) on 46.8 % (101/8) shooting. This is probably Anthony's cue to drop 50.
  • The Nuggets lead the NBA in free throws made (23.2) and attempted (30.6) per game. They also lead the NBA in steals (9.4) per game.
  • Like the Bucks, the Nuggets didn't revamp their roster before Thursday's trade deadline. They traded Von Wafer for Taurean Green, a move that won't have much of an effect for a while, if ever. Green was Florida's point guard during their title runs. Among the pre-deadline rumors was Ron Artest possibly heading to Denver. The Nuggets pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent memory last year when they pried Allen Iverson away from Philadelphia, so to expect another blockbuster so soon may have been wishful thinking. Still, the idea in getting Iverson was to win now, and win big. Now that the dust has settled, it appears the Nuggets have only a slightly better chance of reaching the finals than making the playoffs at all. While the Nuggets would trail only the Celtics and Pistons in the East, playoff life is much tougher out West, as Jeremy at Pickaxe And Roll recognizes.

    At this point I have to believe the most likely scenario for this team is once again a first round playoff exit.  Which of the other seven playoff teams would the Nuggets be favored against in a seven game series where they do not have home court advantage?  Most likely the Nuggets will draw the Lakers, Spurs or Suns.  Things are tight enough that anything can still happen from a seeding standpoint, but even though the standings are packed closer than 16 clowns in a 1973 VW Bug it is clear that the Lakers, Suns, Hornets and once Tony Parker returns, the Spurs are the class of the conference.  Utah is right there and Dallas is still very tough, but I think even with Kidd they are a level below everyone else.  Denver is close to all of these teams in the standings, but they are clearly far from performing at the level of the other top teams in the west.

  • The Bucks are only 3.0 games ahead of the Knicks, who hold the 14th spot in the East. That's further than the 3.5 games they are behind the Sixers and the final playoff spot.
  • Check out Pickaxe And Roll, Nugg Doctor, the Denver Post, and Rocky Mountain News for more on the Nuggets.