Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat: Preview, Analysis and Predictions

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent INovember 2, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Nene Hilario #31 of the Denver Nuggets and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat vie for rebounding position at the Pepsi Center on January 13, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Heat 117-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

We've got one hell of a game happening this weekend folks, as the Denver Nuggets head to South Beach for an inter-conference contest against the defending champion Miami Heat.

A win would mean a lot for the Nuggets, as their depth is off the charts and their balanced attack is the perfect recipe to give the dangerous Heat a run for their money.  The team made a big splash over the summer by acquiring Andre Iguodala from the Philadelphia 76ers in the blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers.  His explosive presence will surely make a great impact against a team that always seems to find a way to overwhelm the opposition.

Yet, the Nuggets also have a fine young point guard in the recently-extended Ty Lawson, who's going to give everyone on Miami gray hair with his tremendous athleticism and ability to take control of the game in an instant.  If he can get past the pesky defense of Mario Chalmers, this will become a different game and anything but a guarantee for Miami.

Time: Saturday, November 3rd, 7:30 P.M., EDT

TV: Sun Sports

Records: Denver (0-2) vs. Miami (1-1)

Betting Line: Not available as of Friday, November 2nd at 10:02 A.M., EDT

Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (ankle), Timofey Mozgov (knee), Joel Anthony (hamstring), LeBron James (leg)

Key Storyline: Denver's Depth Goes Head-to-Head Against Miami's Strong Core

There's no use in denying it anymore, ladies and gentlemen.  The Miami Heat are the most dangerous team in the NBA, and any team that thinks it can handily defeat LeBron & Company had better have a ton of luck on its side.

Still, if any team can make a statement in South Beach, it's the Nuggets.  While the Heat did improve their depth by adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis over the summer to come off the bench, they still rely heavily on their Big Three for most of their production.

In fact, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade accounted for two-thirds of the Heat's offense all of last season.

Denver, on the other hand, is at a distinct advantage in the depth department.  Each and every member of its starting lineup is strong, athletic and skilled enough to take complete control of a game in crunch time, be it Danilo Gallinari with his shooting or JaVale McGee with some impeccable defense.

Needless to say, if anyone on Denver gets the hot hand, it's going to be a close game.  Look for both squads to give solid defensive efforts on shutting everyone down while also taking control on offense.

Key Matchup: Ty Lawson vs. Mario Chalmers

This pairing is going to be fun to watch as both Lawson and Chalmers are two of the most talented pests at their position.  Both men have mastered the art of stealing the ball and nailing the wide open three. Both also have similar builds, though the 5'11" Lawson is a bit shorter than the 6'2" Chalmers.

The only real difference between the two is that Lawson is more of a scorer.  The former Tar Heel averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 assists from 2010-12 and has continued to improve ever since Nuggets coach George Karl started giving him significant minutes.  Lawson's defense has also been incredible, making him a complete player.

Chalmers, on the other hand, is a far cry from the scoring and hot-shooting point man he was at Kansas.  He averaged 12.2 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game in college while shooting an astounding 41 percent from the field.

On the NBA level, however, Chalmers has abandoned his scoring in favor of defense, which is not a bad thing at all.  He has averaged 8.3 points and 1.5 steals per game and has made a respectable 36 percent of his threes.

Yet, when it comes to putting points on the board, Lawson is going to give Chalmers a battle as he will surely fight through the former Jayhawk's tough defense, making for a great game on both ends of the floor.

X-Factor: Dwyane Wade

As we saw in Miami's game against the Boston Celtics, Wade did a fine job of taking control in crunch time when LeBron James was forced out with leg cramps.  He has another tough battle in front of him in this game, as the freakishly athletic Andre Iguodala will be defending him.

Though Wade is a great athlete in his own right and can take control of a game in the blink of an eye, even he isn't invincible when it comes to the former Arizona Wildcat.  Iguodala's versatility is his greatest asset as he can do everything from score points to rebound to play absolute lockdown defense.

More importantly, what if James' leg cramps are a problem again?  The reigning MVP has that title for a reason and if he's not playing, Miami loses at least 25 points off the scoreboard.

This means that even if James is at 100 percent, Wade has to give 120 because he is no doubt the leader of the Heat and has been since 2005.  He is a great scorer and playmaker and can play some incredible defense, but he is at a disadvantage in that he is only 6'4" compared to Iguodala, who is 6'6".

Either way, Wade is one of the NBA's best and should have no problem coming through in the clutch.


Playing in Miami is never easy for the visiting team, as the crowd is raucous and throws itself behind its team with full force.  Still, the NBA is full of surprises and nothing is ever guaranteed.

Thus, in a surprising upset special that will turn lots of heads, I'm picking the young and deep Nuggets to come to South Beach ready to play and just add even more adrenaline to the mix.  Look for Gallinari to come back from his ankle injury and just shoot the lights out in the second half, for Andre Iguodala to have a great game on defense and for Kenneth Faried to give everyone a hard time in the paint.

To the Heat's credit, they're still a talented team and will do a good job of keeping the game close.  Chris Bosh will sink some key shots and provide good size in the middle.

In the end, however, it's all about buckets and who makes the ones that count.  This time, that honor will belong to Denver.

Denver Nuggets 106, Miami Heat 102


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