After six straight games against playoff caliber teams Denver gets to face a team that will definitely not be in the playoffs. However, do not be fooled. Teams like Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Sacramento are really showing some spunk and Denver cannot afford to come into tonight’s matchup against the Kings with the expectation that they can get a win just by having five guys on the floor at the opening tip.
While the Nuggets demolished the Kings in the first meeting 118-85 do not expect another such blowout tonight. Sacramento has won a game in Denver each of the last three seasons and they will not be intimidated coming into the Pepsi Center.
Kevin Martin is back and raining points down upon the opposition like Mark Cuban rains childish behavior upon the NBA. Since his return ten games ago he has averaged 27.6 points and the Kings have been much more competitive. Sacramento has lost at Detroit by six, at Indiana by five, against Miami by four in overtime and they beat Dallas by seven. The only blowout they were subjected to was a 32 point drubbing at the hands of the Orlando Magic, which is completely understandable the way the Magic are rolling along right now.
The other player that frightens me is John Salmons. He is a playmaker and has had some big games against Denver in the past. He can get in the lane, has good size and is strong enough to finish at the rim. I think of him as a poor man’s Brandon Roy and in close games between Salmons and Martin Sacramento is dangerous.
Also, Sacramento has been playing Jason Thompson quite a bit and he had a lot of success against the Nuggets in their first meeting. Thompson put up a 22 and 11 in their previous game against Milwaukee (on only five shots).
While I expect the game to be close, Denver should definitely end up victorious. I fully expect Denver to dominate in the paint as the Kings have no answer for Nene or Kenyon. The Kings have only won three of their 20 road games this season and had a 12 game road losing streak before squeaking out a triple overtime victory against the Warriors last Wednesday. However, if the Nuggets play lackadaisical defense for the first half or longer as they have been lately the fourth quarter will be much tighter than it should be.
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Previous Matchup: Game 21 – Den 118 Sac 85