I'd love to say I expect the Sixers to bounce back in a huge way tonight against Denver, but I just don't see it happening. That's not to say it's impossible, but Denver is a very, very good team, thanks to one player, Chauncey Billups.
Of all the players who have changed teams over the past 12 months, none has had a greater effect than Billups, and his presence has boosted just about everyone on the team. Imagine what the Nuggets would be like if they hadn't sold Marcus Camby over the summer.
After the jump we'll do a brief pregame and then the in-game discussion, of course.
Kate Fagan pegged J.R. Smith's contribution as the key to the game in her preview. Personally, I think this game is going to hinge on Nene. The last time these teams met, Nene has 13 points, 12 boards and soundly out-played Dalembert in the middle. If Sammy can't contain Nene, and most importantly, keep him off the offensive glass, it's going to be a long night.
Smith, Billups and Melo are all shooting well-above league average from three and none of them are shy about heaving bombs. That's something to keep an eye on. Denver doesn't do a great job of taking care of the ball and they are prone to foul, so an aggressive style on both ends of the floor could swing the odds back in the Sixers' direction.
Last night I had a key to the game for the Sixers of scoring 100 points against Indy. They fell woefully short, so tonight I'm going to pick something much simpler. I don't care how many bad shots Lou Williams takes. I don't care how many stupid decisions he makes. I only want to see Lou overcome one demon tonight. I want him to go the entire game without jumping in the air to make a pass. Just work on that one, Lou, then we'll build from there.
Interesting statistical note about the Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony is fifth on the team in win shares. He trailed Nene (who leads the team), Billups, Kenyon Martin and the Bird Man, Chris Andersen. I thought he was actually playing better this season.
Tip is at 7 p.m., join me in the comments, I'll be watching live.