Pump Up Music: Jonathon Coulton -- "I Feel Fantastic"
The Big Picture: The Denver Nuggets are a borderline juggernaut. Carmelo Anthony has always been a scorer, but after his Olympic experience in Beijing, he's picked up his rebounding a notch and suddenly started showing some defensive desire in crunch time, turning it up to 11 when he's feeling it. They still lack a prototypical inside scorer, but that's okay because Nene can score some, everyone (including Kenyon Martin) has accepted that Martin won't be an offensive threat the way he was when he was younger and Jason Kidd was running the show, freeing him to do what he does well without expectation of more, kind of like late-career Horace Grant, only paid way more, and with Chris Andersen in the fold, every front court player they'll send out there has the capacity to be a plus defender.
The good news for the Bobcats is that Denver is on the back half of a back to back, in the middle of a four-game road trip, having defeated the AI/AI2 Sixers last night in Philadelphia. 'Melo struggled mightily against AI2, but Chauncey Billups torched the Sixers' back court to the tune of 31 points on 8-15 from the floor. Billups played 41 minutes, but he was the only one who played more than 34 minutes, so they're going to be reasonably well rested for tonight's game at the Cable Box.
Key to Victory: I swear this isn't because the guy went to UNC and I'm baiting the Tar Heel zealots, but I think Ty Lawson is going to play a big role tonight. Will Bynum has torched the Bobcats' point guards, and Lawson reminds me a lot of him. I suspect George Karl and company are going to test Raymond Felton and Ronald Murray a lot with their super-fast point guard since neither of the guys the Cats have been playing at the position are noted for their foot speed, and that could explain, in part, why Billups played so many minutes last night. Of course, it could also be that everyone just decided he was feeling it and they didn't worry about tonight.
They match up with us. We match up with them. Except for the whole "only D.J. Augustin can keep up with Lawson, so will D.J. play after two straight DNP-CDs?" thing.
Detail That Might Interest .08% of You: Kenyon Martin has a tattoo of a lipstick kiss on his neck. That kiss is from his long time girlfriend Trina, a hip hop singer with a reasonably successful career.