Is Denver a legitimate championship contender or merely a flashy second-tier team? After losing at home to the Clippers and then on the road in Memphis, the Nuggets need a win in L.A. to prove that their season will not yield still another pile of fool’s gold.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are in full sail. After a slow start, and with Chris Paul finally healthy, they seek to establish themselves as the righteous successors to Dallas.
HOW THE NUGGETS CAN WIN: While there’s no doubt that Danilo Gallinari is a budding star, he must be more consistent. If his treys are falling, defenders have to honor every ball fake, which will enable Gallinari to plow his way into the paint. Also, when Gallinari is shooting bull’s-eyes from beyond the arc, the Clippers’ defense will be sufficiently stretched to allow more open spaces and lanes for his teammates to attack the rim.
- Ty Lawson is back in action and adds quickness and speed to Denver’s already potent offense. Since CP3 is an habitual head-turner and not an effective man-to-man defender, he resorts to looking for steals. Accordingly, Lawson must protect the ball and take advantage of Paul’s somewhat risky maneuvers. Also, Lawson must force Paul to either drive or pull left. And since Paul’s shooting has dramatically improved season after season, Lawson does not dare to offer any defensive help.
- Nene has to set sturdier screens than is his wont, hit his mid-range jumpers and overpower DeAndre Jordan in the low post. (more…)