Nuggets-Mavericks: Series Preview

Mark SaltzContributor IMay 3, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 29:  Starters Carmelo Anthony #15, Chauncey Billups #7 and Nene #31 of the Denver Nuggets watch the final minutes against the New Orleans Hornets from the bench in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on April 29, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Anthony had a game high 34 points as the Nuggets defeated the Hornets 107-86 to advance to the Conference Semifinals against Dallas. 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)

The regular season saw Denver win all four meetings with Dallas

That fact alone should worry any associated with the Mavericks, except for trash-talking owner Mark Cuban

This series comes with some interesting story lines. First, there is the match-up between Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd.  When Billups was guiding the Pistons toward becoming the elite club in the Eastern Conference, the hurdle he more often than not had to overcome was Jason Kidd and the Nets

Also it is important to not forget that Rick Carlisle was Billups' coach in the years the Pistons fell short.  It wasn’t until Joe Dumars hired Larry Brown that Motown revved past the Garden State warriors and proceeded to win the NBA Finals. 

Another storyline disguised as a circus show is the Cuban-Carmelo rivalry.  This could the new Spike Lee-Reggie Miller. 


Key match-up

The match-up at point guard will be a tremendous show.  Despite all the young floor generals vying for national attention, this should be a clinic on how to lead a team through the playoffs.  Derrick Rose and Chris Paul should set their DVRs, grab their notebooks, pop some corn, and learn from the experienced.


Key mismatch

Denver: Can anyone defend Carmelo Anthony?  NBA TV has asked whether Anthony loves the attention Billups gets because it takes the spotlight of him.

Perhaps he does, but this is the playoffs.  Dallas’ coaches have ways of containing Carmelo.  But will he eventually break containment and roll toward the Conference Finals?


Dallas: When Dirk Nowitzki is in command, there isn’t anyone who can stop him.  A seven footer who can shot from the perimeter and post up is the model of a truly global basketball player. 

Kenyon Martin and Nene may be too physical for Dirk.  So to win this match-up he will to toughen up and take it inside in clutch time.


Alias (the band) factor

For those unlearned in '80s music, Alias sang the song “More Than Words Can Say”, which includes the lyric "I need you now."  So who for each club would Alias serenade?

Denver: Chris Andersen is on a bit of a redemption tour this season.  He has been crucial in contributing to the Nuggets' success. 

In 22 minutes a game against New Orleans, he averaged 7.8 points and 1.8 blocks.  That’s almost two blocks a game coming off the bench.  His average per 48 minutes would roughly be five blocks. 


Dallas: Josh Howard may easy to forget. He can and will score. 

But that’s not the contribution the Maverick most need from him.  They need him to defend.  More specifically, they will need him to defend Carmelo Anthony. 

If Howard can successfully contain Anthony and Kidd can play even with Billups, then Dallas will only need Dirk to play tough in order to win this series.



Denver in six.  Ultimately, Denver will be too much for Dallas inside.  As much as Eric Dampier talks tough he doesn't walk that way.  Billups has a bit more juice than Jason Kidd, and therefore he will head to his seventh-straight Conference Finals.