After three straight solid home wins, the Nuggets are carrying nice momentum into their second road trip of the season. It’s a quick back-to-back in New Orleans and San Antonio against two teams which provide unique challenges for this new Nuggets team. While the Hornets and Spurs appear to be reeling from injuries, let’s not forget these are still road games against well-rested opponents.
The Hornets are definitely the tougher team to get a read on. One on hand they’re clearly transitioning into a rebuild, but considering the haul they landed for CP3 they are in no way bereft of capable talent. As the second slowest team in the league, their strength is a frontcourt rotation full of elite rebounders who can’t put the ball in the basket. That’s been the larger problem with the Hornets in the early going – they basically do everything you want a good team to do except score points.
I expect Denver to win this game with their superior depth and talent, but there could be some serious pitfalls in relying on a purely offensive gameplan. The Nuggets are jump shot happy when they aren’t fast-breaking teams to death, and the Hornets definitely have an ability to force a half-court game. The Nuggets want to force tempo and win the war in the paint, but they must constantly attack the Hornets’ bigs at the basket. Every jump shot that goes up likely means more rebounds and extra possessions for the Hornets, which is really their only shot at matching the Nuggets offensively.
The San Antonio game might be the biggest test of the young season, purely because of how well it’s going to test the Nuggets defense. Denver and San Antonio had the two best offenses in the league last year despite having vastly different methods of delivering that efficiency. The Spurs won’t be running teams out of the gym, but their deadly spot up shooting is unmatched as is their ability to create high percentage looks anywhere on the floor. They are methodical in terms of shot selection whereas Nuggets prefer to create chaos. Even without Ginobili, I expect this to be a great game and a fabulous test of whether or not Denver’s league-leading defense is for real.
Obviously, the Nuggets’ depth is their greatest asset and that needs to shine for the team to be successful. I’ve been very impressed with the way this team has defended and forced their will on the more conventional, slower paced teams in the league. I still think winning on the road is the true test in terms of contending with a brand of basketball that can win in the playoffs. If the Nuggets can get the consistency they’ve shown in the last three games to travel, I strongly believe they’ll win these next two.
Denver Post: Gordon likely out, Nene likely in
Indications are Eric Gordon is going to miss tonight’s game for the Hornets and Nene will return after missing the last 2 games. Trevor Ariza also looks likely to miss the game for NOLA.
Hornets 24/7 – 3 on 3 Preview
I joined the Hornets 24/7 crew to answer some questions about the game in New Orleans tonight
Dempsey: Al Harrington is a tower of power
Chris Dempsey tells the story of Al Harrington’s early season comeback at the Denver Post. Great read.
ESPN: Buy or Sell – Early Season Surprises
Several of our ESPN TrueHoop colleagues share thoughts on surprise teams including Denver, Minnesota and Portland
Oregonian: Raymond Felton calls Westbrook a selfish player
I missed this from a few days ago – Former Nuggets guard Raymond Felton calls out Russell Westbrook claiming that he is not a team player.