Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Game #1 - Nuggets @ Utah
(Boulder-CO) It's here! It's finally here! The regular season starts tonight for the Denver Nuggets in Utah against the bitter divisional rival Jazz. However, the game should have an unusual feel to it as Denver and Utah will both be missing top talent.
Carmelo Anthony will not play tonight or in the match-up with the Clippers in L.A. while he serves a team-imposed two-game suspension for a DUI late last season. The loss is going to be tremendous for Denver, but the good news for Nuggets' fans is Utah is without heady point guard Deron Williams. D-Will will not be playing tonight due to an ankle sprain suffered in preseason. The Jazz will also have to compensate for a few others not able to suit up. Matt 'The Irritant" Harpring is a scratch due to having to deal with an infection that resulted from ankle surgery and Jarron Collins is also listed as day-to-day with tricep tendinitis.
Now here's where things get tricky: The Nuggets game notes indicate that Dahntay Jones is probable to start over Linas Kleiza. The rest of the starting five consists of Allen Iverson, Anthony Carter, Kenyon Martin, and Nene. This leaves BOTH J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza to come off the bench AND the starters in a position to compensate early for the offensive slack left by Carmelo's absence. Which all leads me to believe, if the game notes are correct, that George Karl is certifiably crazy! Why he would turn to Dahntay Jones, and no disrespect to Dahntay, to start the game over Linas Kleiza, a 40+ point game scoring talent of which came against Utah in Denver's only victory over the Jazz last season, when his team is missing 25+ points in offensive firepower is beyond me. Furthermore, this team with J.R. Smith in the starting line-up is far more capable of matching up with opponents defensively purely on size alone and I would think with Carmelo gone that would factor in as well.
Other things to be aware of in tonight's game are numerous starting with the Jazz's recent dominance in their own building and against the Nuggets as of late. Last season, Utah was the NBA's best home team with a record of 37-4. In addition, the Nuggets have lost nine of the last eleven meetings against the Jazz and were blown out by Utah by 27 points in each of their visits to Salt Lake City in 2007-08.
And the time for all that to stop is right now!
It would be a tremendous shot in the arm for this Denver team to be able to walk away from tonight's game with a W over their division rival without one of their star players. It would set the tone, not only in this rivalry, but for the rest of the season for what this team is capable of.
Unfortunately... the same can be said for the Jazz if they are able to defeat us.
So, there's only one question:
Which superstar means more to their team?
We'll find out tonight!