Game Preview: Nuggets @ Hornets

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Published: December 18, 2009

Today, I’m going to eschew numbers and keep this preview on a personal level.

Matchup: Nuggets(19-7) @ Hornets(11-13)

Off Efficiency: Nuggets 109.9(3rd), Hornets 103.1(19th)
Def Efficiency: Nuggets 102.9(13th), Hornets 106.9(22nd)

Rematch.  Vengeance.  Or not, because there isn’t much that can be done tonight to expiate what happened last season against this Nuggets team.   Even if the Hornets outscore the Nuggets by 121 tonight, the total number of points the Nuggets outscored the Hornets by last playoffs, would that even things out?  No, not really.

The Nuggets butchered our guys in the playoffs last year.  Butchered them.  For me, watching it happen wasn’t hard just because of the way the Nuggets bullied the Hornets all over the court – it was disheartening because it was the Nuggets.

I don’t have a lot of strong opinions about most players.  I don’t care for Kobe.  I’m so tired of LeBron’s towering ego that even seeing his name makes me want to grumble.  The Nuggets, though, were probably my least favorite team in the league even before the beat down.  I was even a little contemptous of them.  I’d always thought Carmelo was a talented bonehead who wouldn’t put it all together.  I’ve disliked Kenyon Martin since his days in New Jersey when he blamed everyone else for failures he had a major hand in.  Then he went and got that lips tattoo on his neck.  Last year, the Nuggets also had Dahntay Jones, who is about as likeable as venereal disease.

Even two players I do like, JR Smith and Chris Andersen, stir up mixed feelings in me.  Both of them should be wearing Hornets jerseys, so they don’t make me feel better seeing the Nuggets, they just leave me feeling vaguely frustrated.

So I hope the guys win tonight for several reasons.  But when I look at the efficiencies listed above, it won’t be an easy battle.  They are going to have to avoid those early deficits tonight, because the Nuggets won’t be so easy to come back on.

Injuries:

Nuggets: Chauncey Billups will sit this one out.  That’s a big boon for the Hornets.
Hornets: Diogu will be out all season, I’m going to stop mentioning him.  Marks is still struggling.

Oh – there will probably be no Game On thread tonight, as Niall is on his way to Ireland for the Holidays, and I’m running short on bloggin’ time.

So instead I’m going to thank Dariusz here for the great banner of Thornton, and hope all of you can chat about the game in the comments for this post.

Positional Analysis

PG: Ty Lawson v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
I don’t know if Lawson or Carter is going to start, but Lawson has gotten more time than Carter this season – and is better – than Carter.  George Karl does love Carter though, so who knows.  Regardless, Paul gets an advantage against either of them, but Lawson’s relentless speed and the way he always pushes the pace will cause problems for the Hornets, who are not good at transition defense at all.  Particularly their rather slow starting five.

SG: Arron Afflalo v Devin Brown
Advantage: Even
Afflalo is a nice backup guard pressed into a starting role.  This season, that’s exactly what Devin Brown is.  Both can hit shots from the perimeter, both can defend a little, and neither are primier scorers.

SF: Carmelo Anthony v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Nuggets
Anthony is a more complete player the last couple years, passing more freely, defending a little harder.(though not always)  His scoring this year has been exceptionally efficient, and he’s been much more willing to post and drive against players.  In past years, Stojakovic had been able to bait him into taking mid range jumpers – which minimizes his effectiveness.  I’m not sure He’ll be able to do that tonight.  This is a big advantage for the Nuggets.

PF: Kenyon Martin v David West
Advantage: Even
Kenyon Martin and West essentially cancel each other out.  Martin has a poor offensive game and can’t board, but his defensive work will most likely make David West look like the same sort of guy – a guy with a poor offensive game who can’t board.

C: Nene v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Nuggets
Nene is a monster on the pick and roll.  He crushes it at the rim, and shows a ton of energy and explosiveness on the way there.  Emeka Okafor has also shown an improved ability with Paul on the pick and roll, getting free for three or four easy attempts a game.  Rebounding-wise, I’ll give Okafor a slight advantage, but Nene is a better defender, particularly out on the perimeter where his agility lets him help against speedy guards(like Paul) without fouling too frequently.

Bench
Advantage: Nuggets
JR Smith and Chris Andersen make a potent small-big combo off the bench, even though Smith isn’t yet up to full speed after sitting out the early part of the season.  Anthony Carter is a fine backup point, if not great.  Joey Graham provides a little energy and defense.  That’s pretty much all you need off the bench.  The Hornets have good backcourt depth in Thornton and Collison, Posey is picking it up, and Songaila is proving to be a great frontcourt reserve for everything but rebounding.  If the Hornets only had a rebounder off the bench, they’d probably have the advantage here.

Enjoy the Game.

 

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