The Denver Nuggets have claimed the Northwest trophy for the second consecutive time. Although this year, the Jazz and the Nuggets were tied at the end of the season with the same record, but the Nuggets had won the division due to a Utah loss against Phoenix.
Now what a better way to see who's really the beast in the Northwest (if it only was Northeast, would've sounded cooler), than have the Nuggets and the Jazz play in a potential seven game set that is for sure to be filled with twists and turns.
With the fun interesting introduction aside, lets check out, what I like to call, "The Dirty Stuff."
Denver won the series three games to one, with the Jazz winning the last game 116-106 in Utah with the Nuggets having the Melo man and Chauncey Billups on the DNP list. They led as many as 18, and the Nuggets got within 93-90 in the closing minutes only to be stopped by a 9-2 spurt by the Jazz.
The same thing happened in their previous meeting in Utah; both Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups were out, and the Nuggets came away with a 10-point victory.
Now both teams are pretty well banged up.
The AK47 is listed day-to-day with a strained left calf, and Carlos Boozer is also listed day-to-day with a strained oblique. On the Nuggets side, it seems that Kenyon Martin's knee is still bothering him as he took a precautionary leave from the second half against the Suns, one of his three games played since the third week of March.
George Karl has been listed as unavailable for the first round, so we can count him out as well. Adrian Dantley has led the Nuggets to an pedestrian 11-8 record since taking over for George Karl. Its clear to see that as well as a coach AD may be, the Nuggets are much more effective with George Karl running the show.
Carmelo Anthony has led the Nuggets in the two games he has played against the Jazz averaging 33.5 PPG on 54.5 percent shooting from the field. There is no real solid defender on the Jazz that currently is active that can guard Carmelo. Andrei Kirilenko would be the one to try slow down the Melo man if anybody, that's if AK47 can shake off a months rust.
Williams has been the leader in both points and assits against the Nuggets averaging both 22.2 PPG and 10.2 APG respectively. Arron Afflalo who is excelling beyond expectations in his first year with the Nuggets will most likely defend Williams as Deron will only tire Billups out.
The Jazz as a team are averaging 25.8 APG over the Nuggets 18.8 APG. The barometer for the Nuggets as a team is the 20 assists mark. They are practically unbeatable when they hit the 20 assists.
Then you bring the home court advantage into the equation. The Denver Nuggets went 34-7 at home, while the Jazz went 32-9 at home. It's pretty obvious that both teams play quality basketball at home, and especially the Utah Jazz. Those fans down their mark their territory, Energy Solutions Arena just has a powerful aura surrounding them.
The bench play is pretty heavy too. When you take a look between both benches, the Jazz can bench press around 100, while the Nuggets could bench press about 200. If you don't get it, the Denver Nuggets have the better bench.
You have the wildcard in Jr Smith who has picked up his game as of late. In his past five games Smith has averaged 17.2 PPG and shooting 37 percent from downtown, Chinatown.
Then you have energy man, Chris Andersen who people may argue, is not the same Birdman that he was last year energy wise, although the stats are the same. Then you throw in Lawson who was born to play the fast break of Denver style basketball. He put up 17 points in his debut against the Jazz, which the Nuggets won.
The Jazz lost Ronnie Brewer to the Grizzlies, and inserted Wesley Mathews, leaving Cj Miles to come off the bench. Miles is a decent shooter, averaging about 10 per contest. Then you have the big factor in Paul Milsap. He is very effective as a starter as we all saw last year when Boozer was out. He's put up 12 PPG on 62 percent shooting against the Nuggets.
Although if Boozer isn't playing the Jazz don't have much a bench to work with. Either way, the fans of the Jazz should act as a sixth man, and same situation for the Nuggets.
The Dirty's prediction, Nuggets will win in seven games.
Game one kicks off on Saturday at 7:30 Pacific on ESPN