Regular Season Game 21
Nuggets (12-7) at Wizards (9-11)
CSN, Altitude2 NC8, and NBA League Pass
The Wizards continue their homestand with a game against the Denver Nuggets tonight at 7 PM. It appears that Calvin Booth will get the nod in the middle, as Etan Thomas is definitely out of tonight's game and Brendan Haywood looks doubtful too according to the latest report. This means that the Wizards will have to deal with Denver's athletic frontcourt, but it's not as imposing a task as it seems. The Nuggets are second in the league in rebounds per game, but only have a +2 rebounding margin and are surprisingly only 21st in blocks. Other than Marcus Camby, the Nuggets are surprisngly average inside, with Kenyon Martin injured and Nene hobbling.
Of course, the greater problem is dealing with Denver's wings. We all know about Carmelo Anthony, but J.R. Smith is also having a big year, averaging 18 a game on nearly 47 percent shooting. It used to be that a defense needed only to double-team Anthony and sag the rest of the defenders in the lane, but with Smith in the fold, that's no longer an effective option. It really boggles my mind that Chicago, who is in dire need for a player like Smith, could ship him away to Denver for absolutely nothing. That has to be the steal of the offseason.
The only really good news about playing the Nuggets is that they are very much a one-on-one team. Anthony and Smith are great scorers, but not great passers. Andre Miller is a great point guard for them, but most of his assists come in transition. We know the Wizards defense at least has a punchers chance against teams that rely on one-on-one play, and that certainly is Denver's style. In addition, the Wizards can simply hide Jamison on Eduardo Najera, which helps the defense.
On the other end, the Nuggets guards will struggle to match up with Gilbert Arenas. Miller is a little slow, and Earl Boykins is way too short. Anthony isn't all that great of a defender either, so Butler should have a good game. I expect Caron to get a ton of offensive rebounds in this one on Anthony.
For the Wizards to win, they need to force Denver to beat them from the perimeter and make sure to get hands up when Smith or Melo shoot the ball. With those guys, contesting shots sometimes is all you can do. Also, the Wizards need to get to the rim and get Camby in foul trouble, because the Nuggets don't have much behind him. Camby's a great shotblocker, but Arenas and Butler are masters of drawing contact as long as they get to the rim. That's going to be huge in this game.
As a reminder, the contest begins tonight, so here are your lines once again.
Nuggets at Wizards: Wizards by 2.5
Over under on Big 3: 63.8 points.
I've got a final tomorrow, so I'm not sure how much I'll be watching or listening to this one. If you are, use the comments section to chat about it.