This will be a very interesting series between two teams that play very different styles of basketball. Many of the individual matchups lean the Nuggets way and here they are:
POINT GUARD: Tony Parker is the leader of the Spurs and he’s played big in a lot of huge basketball games in the post season. He’s lightning quick with the basketball and he’s an outstanding shooter, especially from mid-range. He averaged 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Steve Blake will have a hard time dealing with him on defense. Steve Blake played well for the Nuggets after coming over in the Earl Boykins trade with Milwaukee. His best skill is his long-range shooting as he’s not a pure point guard. He averaged 6.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game for the Nuggets this season. EDGE: HUGE FOR THE SPURS
SHOOTING GUARD: Allen Iverson is an outstanding basketball player. He tends to get a little selfish at times but he seems to have become a little better about that with the Nuggets. He should have little problem getting his points against Michael Finley and Manu Ginobili. Iverson averaged 26.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. Michael Finley is getting a little old to be running around with A.I. He is bigger than Iverson and he’s a good long-range shooter, but he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Iverson. Finley averaged 9.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. EDGE: HUGE FOR NUGGETS
SMALL FORWARD: Carmelo Anthony is the real shining star of the Denver Nuggets. He’s doesn’t play much defense and he’s not a great rebounder, but that won’t matter as he will likely be matched up with Bruce Bowen most of the time. Anthony averaged 28.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Bruce Bowen is a outstanding defensive player, but he’ll have his hands full with Carmelo Anthony. Bowen only averaged 6.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game this season. EDGE: GIGANTIC FOR THE NUGGETS
POWER FORWARD: Tim Duncan is one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. He does everything well, but, the Nuggets will have a couple of big bodies inside mixing it up with him. Still, Duncan always takes his game to a higher level in the post season and he will again this year. He averaged 20.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season. Nene Hilario had a great second half for the Nuggets and he will be banging around with Tim Duncan all series long. He averaged 12.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game this season. EDGE: SPURS
CENTER: Marcus Camby is one of the best defensive players in the NBA and he will have Nene’s back in dealing with Tim Duncan as the Spurs centers scare no one on offense. Camby also is an underrated player on offense as he averaged 11.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season. Francisco Elson will start for the Spurs and his job is to play defense and rebound. He averaged 5.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. EDGE: NUGGETS
BENCH: The Nuggets have a pretty solid bench crew that will likely only be 4-deep. Guard J.R. Smith is a really athletic player that is also an outstanding 3-point shooter. He was a starter at shooting guard early in the year, but now he’s the Nuggets 6th man. He averaged 13.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Linas Kleiza really played well this season for the Nuggets and he can handle the shooting guard or small forward position. He averaged 7.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game this season. He also is a good outside shooter. Eduardo Najera is a ball of energy off the bench that gives 110% at all times. He averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game this season.
The Spurs bench is a very battle-tested group. Manu Ginobili is one of the best 6th men in the league. He’s very aggressive at both ends of the floor and he’s an outstanding shooter. He averaged 16.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Brent Barry (8.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists) and Matt Bonner (4.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.4 assists) are both three-point assassins. Beno Udrih is Tony Parker’s caddy and he averaged 4.7 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game this season. Fabricio Oberto is the backup center and he averaged 4.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game last season. Robert Horry is one of the greatest clutch shooters in NBA Playoff History! But, he didn’t play much this season and averaged only 3.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game this season. EDGE: SLIGHT FOR THE SPURS
PREDICTION: This series will go 7 games. I’m not so sure who will win the series, but if pressed I would pick the Spurs. That being said, I love the matchups for the Nuggets and wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled an upset in this series.