With the Nuggets losing to the Suns tonight, the Mavs winning and the Warriors inactive, the Mavs move back into the 7 slot while the Nuggets move back out of the playoff picture into the 9 slot. The Warriors play the Spurs and the Nuggets play the Suns Tuesday night.
If you care about the Mavs playoff hopes, you were probably paying attention to the Nuggets-Warriors game tonight.
Well, it's over, and the Nuggets were victorious 119-112. With the win, Denver leapfrogs into the eight spot and are now 1/2 game ahead of the Golden State for the final playoff spot. The Nuggets are 1/2 game behind the Mavs now, and play their next game at Phoenix on Monday. Kenyon Martin evidently visited the way-back machine and brought 2004 K-Mart to tear the Warriors up with 30 points and 11 rebounds.
Obviously, this was a big game for the Mavs, and they failed. With the loss, they fall back to only being one game up on the Warriors in the seven spot and the Nuggets are tied with the Warriors for the eighth spot (at least for another hour). The Warriors are currently playing the Blazers, and it's a close one. Check it out on TNT if you like, because the success or failure of the Warriors may have just as much to the Mavs playoff hopes as the Mavs trying to scrap together some wins.
Plus, it wouldn't kill you to scout the Mavs next opponent either. How badly will Baron Davis or Monta Ellis run circles around Jason Kidd? How much will the Warriors stable of guards confound the weakened Mavericks defense? Check it out and make your own observations. Then, be worried about the Mavs next few games. It's currently tied at 59 with just under 9 minutes left, which is enough time to make a makeshift Blazers towel and wave it from your living room.
UPDATE: The Warriors have come on to thoroughly whoop the Blazers. They outscored Portland 40-20 in the third quarter and are up by 20 with six minutes to play. This will put the Warriors half a game up on the Nuggets for the eighth spot, and 1/2 a game back from the Mavs for the seventh spot.
The last time the Mavs played the Nuggets, they saw an energetic team that wouldn't quit on offense. Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Linas Kleiza all had huge games while the Mavs got decent performances from Dirk and Stack and everyone else struggled. The Mavs have now lost two in a row to the Nuggets.
Since the last time... Since the Nuggets defeated the Mavs 122-109 on Dec. 6, the Nuggets have gone 14-8, which has been enough to successfully stave off the charge of those pesky Portland Trail Blazers and the underperforming Utah Jazz thus far. They stand at 26-16 and are 1.5 games ahead of both of those teams by winning four of their last five games.
Two starting All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson were both voted starters to the All-Star Game, which marks the first time any Nugget was voted as a starter since Alex English had the honor in 1989. It also marks the first time in 28 years that two Nuggets have been voted to start in the All-Star game in the same year. In 1979, David Thompson and George McGinnis were both named starters and Thompson won the game's MVP award.
Linas providing a boost Third-year Lithuanian forward Linas Kleiza has really shined this season and is providing a big scoring boost for the Nuggets off the bench. In his last 10 games, he is averaging 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds and shooting well from long range. He's averaging career highs in almost everything and has helped ease the load when Carmelo and Iverson need a rest. The Mavs really need to watch out for him as he has been very hot lately. In his last five games, he has had three 20-plus outings and a 41-point performance.
Burning question Can the Nuggets continue to outscore their way to a divisional title?
The Mavs return home after a three-game road trip tonight to face the Denver Nuggets (11-8) for the first time this season. The Mavs lost their last meeting with Denver in April in a putrid 75-71 slugfest in which the two teams combined to shoot 35 percent from the floor. The Mavs will look to clean things up a bit and improve to 9-1 at home this season.
Iverson and Anthony co-existing to produce big numbers Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson had separate runs as team leader last year as Iverson came over by trade while Anthony was in the middle of a 15-game suspension for fighting. When Anthony returned, the situation was a little strange as the two of them were coming together as being team leaders of the same team at different times during the same season. But, the two of them co-existed and made the playoffs only to be quickly dispatched by the Spurs in the first round. Now, the two scorers are combining to average 50 points per game―the highest combined total of two players on a team in the NBA. Whether or not those two are good enough (or George Karl can coach well enough) to carry a defensively-poor Nuggets team past the first round remains to be seen.
Camby has been solid Although Iverson and Anthony are the marquee names and perennial All-Stars, Marcus Camby is probably their most consistent player. He's the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and leads the league in blocks with 60. He's sixth on the team in points per game but is a monster on the blocks and will likely be standing in any Mavs' way who decides to slash into the middle. Although Camby may not be the best man-on-man defender, it probably won't matter against the Mavs since their post scoring threat is minimal. Don't be surprised if Camby blocks more than five shots tonight.
Not quite last night The Nuggets gave the Lakers a run for their money last night, but ultimately came up short despite Allen Iverson's season-high 51 points. The Nuggets were unable to stop a late Kobe Bryant barrage and came up short 111-107. The valiant effort likely drained the Nuggets―especially Iverson. Of course, the Mavs put together quite an effort (in vain) in trying to stop Manu Ginobili last night, so both teams might come out a little sluggish.