Marlowe Blog: On a roll, Nuggets hit the road
Denver embarks on four-game trip leading into the All-Star break
Well, after winning eight straight games and 14 of 16, the resurgent Denver Nuggets head out on the road for a tricky four-game trip.
They will play four games in five nights against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets.
How will the Nuggets do on this trip? Here’s my Marlowe rundown on the opponents the Mile High Crew will face.
First up, the 14-34 Cavaliers. Sounds like an easy win doesn’t it? Well, think again! Yes, the Cavs have the third-worst record in the NBA. Yes, the Nuggets have already beaten them once at Pepsi Center, 98-91.
But that was then, and this is now. The Cavs, led by All-Star guard Kyrie Irving have won five of their last seven games. Victims include Boston, Milwaukee and OKC!
In addition, on Jan. 22, the Cavs bolstered their roster by trading for three new players, Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby. Speights, particularly, has been a great pickup averaging 15 points off the bench.
The moral to this story: the Nuggets need to be focused and very ready to get a win at “The Q”.
Sunday night, back-to-back, the Nuggets take on the Boston Celtics, who are 25-23 and riding a six-game winning streak. They are good at home (17-9) and sub-par on the road (7-14).
The Celtics are an experienced, but aging, group. Kevin Garnett is 36, and running mate Paul Pierce is 35. Boston also is hurting without All-Star guard Rajon Rondo (knee) and rookie standout Jared Sullinger (back).
All that being said, it might be wise for the young Nuggets to remember the great quote from former Houston Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich: “Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”
After a day off Monday, the Nuggets will match up against the revamped Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. The Raps, 17-31, are going nowhere this season.
But they just acquired Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies. With Gay joining DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, The Raptors now have one of the most athletic and exciting teams in the league.
The Nuggets have fared well in Toronto in recent seasons and should have enough to get out of Canada with the W.
(Note to self: Chris, don’t forget to bring your passport!!)
The fourth and final game of the trip is against the revitalized Brooklyn Nets. They have a new building, the Barclays Center, and have been playing well under new coach P.J. Carlesimo.
The Nets have some studs: Deron Williams at point, Joe Johnson at wing, Gerald Wallace at small forward and a much-improved Brook Lopez at center.
This should be a great game – high scoring and very physical. Win it and head to the All-Star break on a big high!
Final analysis: the Nuggets are playing great and could go on the road and win all four.
My prediction: Nuggets go 3-1, losing to the Cavs and then beating the Celtics, Raptors and Nets.