Re: May 3: Mavericks at Nuggets, Game 1
A little early but I'll take it.
Keys for me:
Transition D - It's been the nuggets weak point, and the mavs will run a hell of a lot more than New Orleans. Stop the ball and stop easy transition buckets.
Perimeter D - Dallas has much more capable outside shooters than New Orleans and NOH actually shot well from deep, so this aspect is crucial. As long as they're contested, I can live with that.
Swing the ball - Dallas' halfcourt D has improved quite a bit and if Denver gets into their typical iso 20 footer halfcourt set, they're in trouble, especially because misses will result in fast break points. I'm interested in how they'll play Melo and who they'll double off of, if they even do, I don't know about Howard's game. Look for a cutting Dahntay Jones or Kmart or even Jones in the corner.
Should JR find himself matched up with Barea, the Nuggets need to exploit it every time. I remember the last couple games, JR could just shoot right over the top of him for some easy looks.
The BIGS are going to be huge in this - Nene needs to bring his A game, both offensively and defensively and can't get lulled to sleep by Bass who will go out and knock down the 17 footer. Not really sure about Dampier.
Nuggets are notorious for switching screens which I hate and don't understand. They need to fight through the screens, show some toughness and some grit, and set some hard screens of their own. I don't know how physical Dallas is (for the moment I'm giving Denver the advantage), but the Nuggets need to set the tone early in the series.
And another thing, the Kidd-Billups matchup is gonna be great. I'm expecting a lot more post play between the two since they're two of the best.
Kenyon has got to stay out of foul trouble. I can't imagine Birdman having much of an effect on Dirk unless he's driving to the basket to give Bird a shot at a block, so as long as Kmart can log the minutes to cover him, I actually like this matchup.
And for what it's worth, I played the game last night on 2k9 and won 112-103.
We shall see.