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Four-Pointer: Previewing the Denver Nuggets

After back to back losses to Denver in November, the Nuggets come to Texas for a prime time match-up.

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What have the Nuggets done lately?

Nothing good, that's for sure. After posing as fringe playoff contenders, Denver has collapsed, losing 11 of their last 12 and 16 of their last 21. The team has come apart at the seams, in part due to coaching and in part due to roster make up. Roundball Mining Company actually has a stellar write up of the whole situation here. At this point, there's no real incentive for the team to win. Their first year coach hates the roster he has and the roster has been destroyed by injuries. Dallas should be prepared for anything, though, as the Nuggets still possess the kind of athleticism which can give the Mavericks fits.

Which team stat may determine the game?

The Nuggets are 5th in the league in rebounding, while Dallas sits waaaaay back at 28th. The Mavericks have been much better rebounding in the last six weeks, but the Nuggets will put them to the test. If the three headed center of Dallas shows up, the Mavericks could win. If Kenneth Faried gets cooking early, fans could be in for a frustrating evening.

What Maverick player might be due for a big game?

Dirk's been quiet, for Dirk at least, over the last five games, averaging 18.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists, while shooting 47.5%. Fine numbers, all, but under his season averages by decent margin. I don't expect Dirk to grab many rebounds against the Nuggets, but they don't have a single person capable of guarding Dirk at all. I expect Dirk to try to get to the free throw line a bit and put Denver on it's heels. This could be one of the few chances Dirk has this month at a big game.

What's the biggest match up of the game?

Past the rebounding battles, the match up to watch is Ty Lawson versus the starting Dallas back court. Lawson is up with Monta Ellis among the best driving guards in the league. I expect both Ellis and Jose Calderon to spend some time on Lawson, but neither possess the ability or focus to limit him too much. How Dallas contains his probing ability will go along way towards deciding the game.