The Orlando Magic's first road trip West this season ends tonight in Denver when they take on the Nuggets, and they can salvage a 2-2 split on the trip with a victory... and do so in style, as they'll debut their new black alternate uniforms.
Even without the injured Chauncey Billups, Denver poses several challenges. Stopping Carmelo Anthony is always a chore, although he's only connecting on 42.7 percent of his field goals, his worst such figure since his rookie year. Veteran center Nenê has given Denver a surprise lift on the offensive interior, shooting 63.5 percent from the floor and averaging 5.8 free-throw attempts per game. Billups' absence creates an opportunity for Ty Lawson, among the league's promising young backup point guards. And while shooting forward Al Harrington has been his usual high-volume, low-efficiency self, he's still capable of getting very, very hot.
But the Nuggets have holes defensively, and I don't think they can afford to play at Orlando's preferred, walk-it-up pace. It's incumbent on Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter to control the tempo on offense, while it'll be a team-wide effort to force the Nuggets into playing a half-court game.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|16-8 (7-5 road)
|14-9 (10-1 home)
|December 14th, 2010|
|Sun Sports / NBA TV|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Ty Lawson|
|Vince Carter||SG||Arron Afflalo|
|Rashard Lewis||SF||Carmelo Anthony|
|Brandon Bass||PF||Shelden Williams|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|91.1 (19th)||Pace||96.5 (2nd)|
|106.5 (14th)||ORtg||110.5 (6th)|
|100.9 (3rd)||DRtg||108.6 (18th)|