Game Time: 9:00 PM ET
Record: 21-12 (9-7 Road)
Margin: +1.0 (-1.2 Road)
L10: 7-3 (+2.3 Margin)
Record: 25-12 (14-4 Home)
Margin: +3.9 (+6.7 Home)
L10: 8-2 (+3.7 Margin)
Since swapping Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups, Denver (at 24-9) has been among the league's elite teams. As a team, Denver shoots 48%, and 39% from three point range, and they get to the line as frequently as any team in the league.
While Chauncey has done his fair share to bring about the Denver's renaissance, the team has certainly benefited from good health. Nene and Kenyon Martin have each played more than thirty games this year, and the former is finally justifying his large contract. Alas, the injury-free run hit a snag, as Carmelo Anthony broke his hand and expects to by out at least a month.
The Nuggets are not without offensive weaponry, with five other players who average double digits in scoring. Linas Kleiza is a capable (if unspectacular) replacement, and the team was able to drop 108 on the Heat on Wednesday.
If you don't know what the drama is...
Keys for Detroit
Full court pressure: Chauncey's still the same player. Make him initiate the offense from thirty feet out, and you'll slow down the offense. Further, without his main scoring option on the floor, Billups turned the ball over an uncharacteristic five times.
Guard the paint: The Nuggets only have three perimeter scorers, and score a lot of points in the lane. Without Anthony, the Nuggets will be particularly vulnerable to zone defense, taking some of the pressure off AI and Stuckey to guard Billups.
Get it to Prince: Kleiza can't keep up with him, and I'm not sure the Nuggets have any other viable solutions. Between Prince and Sheed's (probable) return, we should see an end to the zone defenses Detroit has seen of late.
Question of the Game
Which team will respond to distraction? This is the sort of game where a team gets out to an early double-digit lead. If the Pistons are down early, it's going to be tough to come back.