May 6, 2009
Though Denver still walked away the victor, they weren't perfect and they should examine a few things and utilize their three days off to strategize their game-plan in Game 3.
With that being said, here are the keys for the Nuggets heading into Game Three:
The Big Shots
After starting cold, Billups waltzed out of the half and drained four threes and another jumper in the second half to ease Denver's transition through both quarters.
He was also the perfect game manager, made all four of his free-throws, and was active in the passing lanes, tallying three steals.
Chauncey finished with 18 points and bounced back from a dismal Game 1 performance.
Billups enjoys playing on the road almost as much as he does in front of the home crowd—a small barometer of just how deadly he can be.
Expect Billups to take the Nuggets under his wing and exceed his Game 2 output.
Melo Continues To Be Melo
The Nuggets did an excellent job of rotating the ball and finding the hot hand which was Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter.
Anthony scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth to seal the Nuggets fourth straight postseason victory (second in this series) all while energizing the crowd at the Pepsi Center.
Anthony also scored his 25 points on only eight shots and pitched in five rebounds and five assists, while getting to the line nine times.
He wasn't as effective from three but the Mavericks' defenders had to honor his range which allowed Carmelo to drive right past them and draw contact around the rim.
Once again you can expect a large contribution from Melo in Game 3.
Fourth Quarter Defense on Dirk
The Nuggets held Dirk to only two points in the fourth quarter in Game 1 and they continued to play tight defense on the seven-footer, restricting him to just five points in Game 2.
Closing Out The Game
Entering the game, the Nuggets were 50-3 this season when leading after three quarters and improved on that mark (51-3) with the win at home.
The Turning Point
The Nuggets ripped off a 16-2 run, fueled by Anthony's 10 points that pushed the lead to as many as 17 (102-85), and cemented the Nuggets' victory over Dallas.
Continual Strong Play From The Bench
Sixth Man Of The Year Jason Terry emerged for 21 points and, though Nuggets guard J.R. Smith matched that, Denver's bench was severely outscored to the tune of 31-16.
Denver allowed easy baskets for Ryan Hollins and Brandon Bass early on and their contributions almost won the game for the Mavericks.
Birdman also had zero blocks for only the second time this postseason but managed to contribute eight points and nine rebounds.
In addition, Anthony Carter also effected the game in a different way as he chipped in with four points, four rebounds, four assists, and no turnovers in another sparkling effort off the bench for the Nuggets.
It's no secret that the Nuggets could use a little more production off the bench, but with the starters playing the way they did tonight, they simply won't have two.
Still expect a more balanced effort off the bench for Denver in Game 3.
The series between the Mavs and the Nuggets will resume on Saturday back in Dallas with the Nuggets up 2-0.
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