The Denver Nuggets, the best unknown team in the NBA, visit the ACC to challenge the Toronto Raptors’ modest 2-game win streak. After superstar Carmelo Anthony forced his way out of the Mile-High City in 2011, the Nuggets were expected to be bottom-feeders for years. Not so fast, doomsayers – GM Masai Ujiri (who was in the Raps’ front office until he won the big job in Colorado) retooled quickly. Coach George Karl, who’s been doing this stuff a long time, has made a diverse roster successful. He’s even converted knucklehead JaVale McGee into a valuable rebounder and defender, and gets points from former washout Corey Brewer. I wish we could get our hands on Kenneth Faried, the Manimal. He brings a fierce and infectious joy to the game.
Make your shots from distance. The Nuggets allow more 3-ball attempts than any other team, so the opportunities will be there for Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, and possibly Terrence Ross and Andrea Bargnani (if he’s healthy enough to dress) to light up the scoreboard. If DeMar DeRozan can bury a few long shots, we have a serious chance to win.
Keep the score down, somehow. The Nuggets have only played one game in their past 14 in which they have failed to score 100 points; not surprisingly with that kind of powerful offense, they have lost but 3 times in that stretch. Four of the Nuggets’ starting five average more than a dozen points per game, and their fifth starter, centre Kosta Koufos, gets a few buckets, sets picks, grabs rebounds and blocks shots. Other than that, he’s worthless.
There’s no magic here. Close out on shooters, box out on the boards – otherwise, this game might be over early.
Don’t let this game turn into a track meet. The Nuggets’ point guard, Ty Lawson, might be the fastest man in the NBA. Kyle Lowry will need all his wiles to slow him down. High scorer Danilo Gallinari, veteran Andre Iguodala, Faried – all of them are happy to get out there and scoot. The Raps must crash the offensive boards.
If there’s a fourth key, it’s this: keep their second unit from beating us. The Nuggets’ backup point guard is Andre Miller, who could start for at least half the teams in the league. John Lucas will need to be at his best. Landry Fields could loom large.
You don’t need any reminding that the Raps are in tough against the Nuggets. Let’s hope it’s raining 3s tonight, so the good guys can come away with a 105-102 victory.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.