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Toronto Raptors-Denver Nuggets: Game Preview

Court Zierk@CourtZierkCorrespondent INovember 17, 2009

The Denver Nuggets (7-3) take on the Toronto Raptors (5-5) Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The Nuggets are fresh off of an impressive 25-point annihilation over the world champion Lakers on Friday night and look to continue their dominance against the Raptors.

The Raptors are still trying to stomach a gut wrenching one-point loss at the hands of the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. Many are considering the Raptors performance in that game, even in defeat, to be their strongest outing of the season.

The Nuggets swept the season series last year (2-0).

 

Nuggets Injuries

  • Anthony Carter has a hip strain that kept him out of the lineup against the Lakers. He is considered day-to-day, but will likely sit out at least one more game.
  • Chris Anderson is dealing with right knee tendinitis, but hasn’t missed any playing time and is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday night.
  • Ty Lawson strained his left calf on his monstrous dunk over D.J. Mbenga. Lawson isn’t expected to miss any time.
  • Kenyon Martin has been struggling through left patella tendinitis the better part of this young season, but is expected to be in the starting lineup against the Raptors.

Raptors Injuries

  • Reggie Evans is currently listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game as he continues to nurse the foot injury he sustained during the pre-season.
  • Antoine Wright is listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle. It is still unknown whether he will be in the lineup against the Nuggets.
  • Hedo Turkoglu (hip) was in the starting lineup against Phoenix and all indications are that he will go again Tuesday.

 

Mismatch in Favor of the Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony vs. Hedo Turkoglu

Carmelo Anthony scored more points by himself in the Nuggets last game than the Lakers did the entire second half. And he only played 29 minutes. He continues to dominate every defender that stands in his way. The only matchup that has proven to be tough for him this season was against the big and physical Luol Deng.

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While Turkoglu is definitely big for a small forward, he stands at 6’10’’, he is far from physical. I see Anthony getting to the basket at will against the slower Turkoglu. If it weren’t for his height and his length, which creates the ability to alter shots, Hedo would be an awful defender. He has no chance of keeping ‘Melo in front of him and he definitely will not frustrate Anthony with his toughness.

Turkoglu will get his 15 perimeter points against ‘Melo, but I would expect Anthony to be good for at least 30 points in this matchup.


Mismatch in Favor of the Raptors: Andrea Bargnani vs. Nene

Bargnani is emerging as a prime time player, in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki. He loves to shoot the three, and he has been doing so brilliantly this season (.458), but he can also put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop, which creates a nightmare matchup for nearly every defender in the league.

Nene, while a fairly strong interior defender, will not be able to cause many problems for Bargnani. Nene relies on his bulk to push out opposing post players, but since Bargnani spends very little time in the painted area, this will leave Nene out on the perimeter to stop the three point shot. Bargnani should be able to drive by Nene with relative ease, and the Nuggets will have to rely heavily on their help side defense, which hasn’t been their strong suit this year.

Bargnani should be good for about 25 points in this matchup.

Key Matchup: Kenyon Martin vs. Chris Bosh

Bosh is one of the most offensively gifted big men in the NBA. His game is finesse. Kenyon Martin is one of the most intimidating and versatile defenders in the NBA. His game is toughness. I see this as a battle of strength vs. strength.

If anybody has the skill set to make life difficult for Chris Bosh, it’s Kenyon Martin. He is quick enough on the perimeter to keep Bosh in front of him. He is strong enough to keep Bosh off of the block. And he is athletic enough to consistently contest Bosh’s shots.

Martin does not pose much of a threat offensively, but that is not his role on the Nuggets. He will play tough, hard, and with energy, and all he is expected to do is make Chris Bosh work hard for his points.

Bosh will still get his 20-plus points, but if Martin can win the physical battle and force Bosh into a game he isn’t comfortable with, the Nuggets can chalk this up as a victory.

Keys to the Game for the Nuggets

 

  • Get physical with Bosh
  • Contest the three ball
  • Run, run, run. Ware down the Raptors

Keys to the Game for the Raptors

  • Slow down Denver’s second unit
  • Force ‘Melo into jump shots
  • Win the rebounding battle

Prediction: Nuggets win 110-89

 

The Nuggets are by far the superior team, and they have owned the matchup against the Raptors in recent history.  The Nuggets should be able to carry the momentum of their blowout win against the Lakers into this game and come up with another dominating performance.

When Denver controls the pace of the game, especially at home, they win. Their second unit should be able to wreak havoc against a weaker Raptors squad, and leave the Raptors gasping for air.

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