I do not think we need to worry about the Denver Nuggets overlooking the Sacramento Kings tonight. Not only are the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers pushing the Nuggets in the standings (with the bruised and battered Spurs hanging in there by a thread too), but the last time these two teams played the Kings handed the Nuggets an embarrassing 114-106 loss. It was perhaps the low point of the Nuggets’ season.
A win tonight clinches the Northwest Division title for the Nuggets as well as a top four seed and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Should the Hornets beat the Rockets in Houston tonight a win would also lock Denver into the second seed in the playoffs and render the final regular season game in Portland meaningless.
Sacramento will be playing without leading scorer Kevin Martin, but the Kings still possess enough shooters that the Nuggets cannot afford to fall asleep on defense. Francisco Garcia, Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes, Rahsad McCants and Bobby Jackson can all hit the long bomb. Rookie Jason Thompson, who has given the Nuggets a tough time on the offensive glass, is finishing the season strong. Thompson is posting averages of 14.3 points and 10.9 boards for the month of April and over half of his rebounds (5.6 a game) have been offensive. Keeping Thompson from corralling missed shot after missed shot will be a good exercise for Denver as they attempt to remember how to rebound as a team.
The excuse of playing without Kenyon Martin will expire tonight. George Karl is on record as saying Kenyon will play 25-30 minutes against the Kings so that should provide a boost to the Nuggets’ hemorrhaging interior defense.
The Nuggets are riding a season high nine game home winning streak and I expect them to come out of the gate fired up and basically pile drive the Kings tonight. The Nuggets can taste the post season and have had a few days of rest since the Lakers game.
Denver Nuggets Game Notes – The Nuggets have not won three games in one season against the Kings since the 1992-93 season! Dang.
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Take this with you: How sweet would it be to have a Hornets win on the scoreboard and the starters waiving towels on the bench during the fourth quarter as the Nuggets wrap up the second seed?