DENVER -- If the Dallas Mavericks thought they had a tall order in trying to beat the Lakers in Los Angeles this past Tuesday, tonight's challenge at the Pepsi Center against the Denver Nuggets is even taller.
The Nuggets have the NBA's best home record at 33-3 and just simply make mincemeat of anyone who dare to walk into their building and even think they have a chance to win. Throw in that mile high altitude that the city of Denver is known for, and this is a recipe for disaster for any opponent.
"They're a very good team on the one hand here,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "On the other hand we're a mile high here.
"Those are two of the reasons they've won 18 in a row here, so we respect that and we've got to handle it the right way.''
The Mavs won both of the games they played at the Pepsi Cenetr last year. This is their only appearance here this season tonight at 8 against a Nuggets squad that's 51-24 and seeded third in the Western Conference.
And make no dobut about it. The altitude will play a role in whether the Mavs can get out of here with a victory.
"It'll be a lie to say it's not a factor, but it can be managed,'' Carlisle said. "We have to understand the dynamics of it.
"We've got to rotate guys in a little quicker, and generally in the second half of games guys seem to adjust to it.''
Rookie Jae Crowder heard all the horro stories about the mile high altitude and tried to take matters into his own hands earlier Thursday morning.
"I came over here early and tried to run and tried to get tired early, so when that I run in the game it won't be too much of a factor,'' Crowder said. "But I'm aware of it.
"I got tired quick -- quicker than normal. It went well, but I just felt the tightness in my chest. But I've never played in an atmosphere like this before.''
Forward Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged that the high altitude doesn't particularly affect his game.
"I've actually had good games here, I don't mind it,'' Nowitzki said. "I think usually the burn in the first quarter is tough.
"The first timeout everybody comes huffing and puffing. But once you get over that first timeout it's a fun place to play, the atmosphere is always great here, they're behind their team 100 percent and we've had some battles in here.''
Carlisle likes the fact that the Mavs arrived in Denver very early Wednesday morning and got a chance to adjust to the high altitude. He also totally respects what the Nuggets have been able to achieve on their home court.
"What they've done here is they've built their team with a strength in numbers philosophy, which is very smart given their geography, the fact that they're in altitude,'' Carlisle said. "They hit you with numbers of guys -- that's one of the reasons they're very, very good.
"They've got it going, there's no doubt about that. They’re playing at a high level at home and on the road, and so we’re going to have to play our game extremely well.''
-- Dwain Price
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