New Orleans Hornets Take On The Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups (7) scores against New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul during the second half in game one of their opening round series at the Pepsi Center in Denver on April 19, 2009. Billups scored 36 points and Paul scored 21 points as Denver beat New Orleans 113-84. (UPI Photo/Gary C. Caskey) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Chauncey Billups is not that good, but I am still fearful of his regular Hornet showings...

In today’s game the New Orleans Honrets (1-0) take on the Denver Nuggets (1-0) at the New Orleans Arena. Both teams had big opening day victories against playoff teams, but it was the Nuggets who looked amazingly impressive against the Utah Jazz.

This will be a tough test for the Hornets. In recent years the team has struggled mightily against them both in and out of the playoffs. The Nuggets are without Kenyon Martin a usual pest for the team, but don’t let that fool you. In the offseason Denver acquired several big men to contribute in Martin’s place. Al Harrington, Sheldon Williams and Melvin Ely were all brought in to supplement the gap left by the defensive power-forward. Against the Jazz, Denver put up 110 points while limiting the Jazz to 88.

Nuggets to watch:

SG: Arron Afflalo

The 4th year guard from UCLA lit up the Jazz for 22 points on 8-11 shooting, he spaced the floor and was a key contributor on defense. This will be a tough test for the Hornets new rotation defense to see whether they can cover both the interior and the wide variety of Nugget shooters including Afflalo.

C: Nene

For the Nuggets, Nene has always been a common source of offensive production both in the post and from the rebounding side of things. Against the Hornets last year the Brazlian averaged 15.5 points, 10 rebounds, shot from 65 percent from the field and 1.75 blocked shots in 4 games. Today New Orleans must limit Nene’s effectivness both on the glass and in the Nuggets offensive sets. Okafor and others need to get Nene in foul trouble because Denver looks a little bit weaker without him.

SG: J.R. Smith

Dude can light it up off the bench, must contain him. Oh and don’t forget out Carmelo Anthony, apparently he wants a trade or something…

Hornets to watch:

The Bench

As I said yesterday the Hornets bench needs to be a more productive unit when it comes to securing and maintaining leads, and chasing down deficits. This is where they are supposed to earn their contract and guys like Thornton, Bayless and Stojakovic need to make an impact.

C: Emeka Okafor

Last game I touched briefly on where the hell Emeka was. I am still his harshest critic when it comes to rebounding, because I want every defensive rebound to be his. But Emekatron needs to get some points. I’m not saying he needs to get them through offensive sets designed for him. I want to see him work hard on the offensive glass.

There are really 3 things Emeka needs to do to be effective on this team.

1. Rebound the ball

2. Don’t any easy points in the paint

3. Communicate on defense and run the floor

SG: Marcus Thornton

I’m really looking for MT5 to stake his claim in the rotation here. If Denver are to lose this game Marcus must contribute off the bench as he did against the Bucks. But I wouldn’t hold your breath, expect to see the god awful Willie Green get time ahead of Thornton once again.

Prediction

I fail to see how Denver loses this one. I watched them play the Jazz and I was thorougly impressed, sure it’s a road game for them, and yes CP is a dynamite winner, but Denver are physical and no how to push our buttons.

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Tags: Carmelo Anthony Chauncey Billups Chris Paul Denver Nuggets Emeka Okafor J.R. Smith Marcus Thornton Nene New Orleans Hornets

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