|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|January 13th, 2010|
|Sun Sports / NBA TV|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Chauncey Billups|
|J.J. Redick||SG||Arron Afflalo|
|Matt Barnes||SF||Carmelo Anthony|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Kenyon Martin|
Despite coming off an impressive win over the Sacramento Kings in their last outing, the Orlando Magic will come into tonight's game against the Denver Nuggets with the odds stacked against them. For one thing, the Nuggets are almost invincible when fully healthy: their projected starting lineup of Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and Nenê has compiled an impressive 15-4 record this year. For another, Magic point guard Jameer Nelson needed "30 minutes of treatment on his surgically repaired left knee" after last night's game, according to John Denton, which means Orlando might have to count on Jason Williams, Nelson's backup, to give the team a lift. The problem with that is that Williams has struggled in back-to-back situations this year: in 9 games with no rest, he's shot 30.4% from the field and 23.1% from three-point range. Did I mention they'll have to tangle with the physical veteran Billups for most of the night?
Also, the Nuggets' style of play takes advantage of tired teams. Billups and Anthony combine to shoot nearly 17 free throws a game, helping Denver post the best free-throw rate in the entire league by a statistical mile; the difference between first-ranked Denver and second-ranked Toronto is greater than the difference between Toronto and seventh-ranked Orlando. If the winded Magic resort to hacking tonight, they'll find themselves in a deep hole.
If all the stuff in the previous paragraphs makes Orlando's chances sound bleak, well, content yourself with this video of Nuggets guard J.R. Smith mistaking an opponent's airball for a made basket.
The game tips shortly after 9.