Those tuning into tonight's national game will be in for a treat, as we have an epic rematch that will surely be full of fireworks, high scoring and some tough defense. The Miami Heat will travel to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets, who they defeated 119-116 at home on November 3. This time, Denver will look to play spoiler and make the Big Three look foolish.
This is a quick turnaround for the Heat, who lost a tough one to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. To play a game the very next day, let alone in a different time zone, will surely have an effect on how the team performs.
Denver, on the other hand, is looking to stay undefeated at home and avoid a losing streak. Much like their opponents tonight, they like to play a fast-paced game and could seek to use that to their advantage.
No matter how you look at it, both teams have a lot riding on tonight's results and will stop at nothing to bring home the victory.
Time: Thursday, November 15th, 10:30 p.m., EST
Records: Miami Heat (6-3) vs. Denver Nuggets (4-4)
Betting Lines: Miami (+3), Denver (-3)
Injuries: Danilo Gallinari (knee), Wilson Chandler (hip), Dwyane Wade (ankle), Dexter Pittman (quad)
Key Storyline: Nuggets Look to Avenge Early-Season Loss at Hands of Miami
For the Denver Nuggets, this game is all about vengeance. They took a trip to Miami on November 3, and actually played a decent game. They managed to keep the game close from start to finish and actually led at some points.
However, thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Ray Allen in the closing seconds, Miami managed to win 119-116.
Now that the Nuggets are on their home turf, they're going to be ready to play, and play hard they will. Be it through a strong offensive output or lock-down defense, there is no way that Denver is going to roll over and die now that the Heat are coming to town fresh off a loss. Head coach George Karl most definitely used their earlier loss to the defending champions as a learning experience, which means that his men will be better prepared this time around.
Simply put, one of the Nuggets is going to take control this game and stop at nothing to help the team win. It may be Ty Lawson, or maybe Andre Iguodala. Either way, this one's going to be a dogfight.
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. Kenneth Faried
This game is going to be a rare type, with some high scoring to go with some incredible defense. Thus, as they did in the first game between their teams, one of the game's best scorers and one of the top up-and-coming defenders are going to be fighting like cats and dogs when it comes to covering each other. Of course, I'm talking about LeBron James and Kenneth Faried.
James definitely has the edge in experience and overall skills, being the reigning MVP and a triple threat. However, as we saw in the teams' first game against each other this year, Faried did a fine job covering James, holding him to 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
On offense, Faried did a fine job in his own right. He scored 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting and pulled down 12 rebounds.
That all being said, this matchup isn't going to be about who can keep the other from scoring points. Rather, it's going to be all about who plays the better defense. James and Faried are both 6'8", though James weighs 250 pounds to Faried's 228, and both have proven to be fine rebounders and defenders.
However, Faried has a distinct advantage in that he plays as though he is much bigger than his actual size. He goes after every rebound with tenacity and determination, stopping at nothing to get the ball back for his team.
Given how Miami tends to not play as well against teams with more size, which should certainly make the matchup between Chris Bosh and Kosta Koufos/Javale McGee fun to watch, it will be interesting to see how the team approaches Faried. If he can be taken out of the game and Bosh can channel a repeat performance of his 40-point effort against Denver on November 3, then the odds of Miami winning become greater.
X-Factor: Andre Iguodala
Iguodala has done a good job as the Nuggets' new shooting guard, averaging 15.4 points and 7.5 rebounds through eight games. However, though it is important that he score points in tonight's game, it is even more critical that he take full advantage of his matchup with Dwyane Wade.
You see, Wade is playing with a sore ankle and has scored just 33 total points over his last three games. In Miami's loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night, he scored just six points and shot 2-of-10 from the field.
That said, Iguodala is in a prime position to have a great night against one of the best players in the league. Wade's ankle is clearly affecting his offense, so there is no reason that Iguodala shouldn't absolutely go off on him tonight. He has no excuse to not hit his jump shots, contest a lot of shots or have a bad game.
Simply put, if Iguodala is off his game, bringing home a victory is going to be extremely tough for the Nuggets to accomplish. Hopefully, he won't get too impulsive with his shooting and pick his shots carefully.
This game is all about vengeance, and the Nuggets are going to have it once the final buzzer sounds. As great a team as Miami is, they have lost two of three and are about to play their third game in the last four nights. They may be hungry for a win tonight, but the quick turnaround and time zone change won't help them.
That said, look for the Nuggets to come into the game even hungrier for a victory. Look for them to play a fast-paced offense and a defense laced with extra adrenaline. Miami may be the better team, but this time it's Denver's house, and George Karl's men will stop at nothing to protect it.
Miami may go on a scoring run here and there, but Denver will find a way to come back, just as they did in the last match against them. Danilo Gallinari will make some clutch shots, Kenneth Faried may set a career high in rebounds and Ty Lawson will dish off some pretty passes
Either way, win or lose, the Miami Heat are going to leave the game knowing that they were just in a fight, and will need to adjust their strategy going forward.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets 118, Miami Heat 109