Sorry for going dark over the All-Star break, I fully intended to post one or two videos highlighting the Nuggets’ defense against the Magic and Heat and throwing at least something up about All-Star Weekend, but I found myself crawling around in a large warehouse in Liberty, MO for many hours between Thursday and Tuesday. The good news is I am back and ready to get back in the saddle.
Denver has a brief three game road trip to kick off the last eight weeks of the regular season starting tonight in Philadelphia. The Sixers had high hopes heading into the season with their hot finish and the addition of Elton Brand. Well, Brand is not out for the season, but apparently that is OK as they are 14-9 when Brand does not play. They are getting better without him too as they are 11-2 in the last 13 games he has missed.
Andre Igoudala is a big reason why Philly has turned things around as he is putting up big numbers since the calendar flipped past November 2008. Behind Igoudala comes Andre Miller who has given the Sixers a steady hand on both ends of the court. They also have a stable of young scorers in Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and rookie big man Mareese Speights.
The real key to the Sixers’ winning ways has been their defense. It will be interesting to see how Philly defends Carmelo. The first meeting this season was the third of three games Melo skipped to try to rest his sore elbow so we have not seen how the Sixers will try to defend both Melo and Chauncey. In that meeting the Sixers had a 17 point third quarter lead and Denver gnawed away at it with a small ball lineup. Hopefully the Nuggets will not need to resort to such shenanigans again tonight.
Denver and Philly have split the season series each of the previous four seasons so the Nuggets will be going for their first series sweep of the 76ers since Melo’s rookie season of 2003-04. Denver has had some success in the City of Brotherly Love and Burning Dumpsters winning three of their last five there, but if you do not include games where one of their star players kissed the 76er logo before the game they have won three of their previous four games there.
Denver has had six days off, except for J.R. Smith who participated in the dunk contest and Chauncey Billups who played in the All-Star game itself. The rest has done Chris Andersen, who bruised his wrist and hip against the Heat last week, some good as he is listed as probable to play tonight. On the flip side Philadelphia played, and lost, in Indiana last night 100-91.
The Nuggets entered the break having won four out of five road games and with the rest they have enjoyed should be confident and determined to carry that momentum forward.
Previous Matchup: Game 30 – Den 105 Phi 101