For second time, T-Wolves surp...
Williams treats vets to party ...
Jazz not looking ahead to road...
Utah Jazz Roster Report 2009-1...
Utah Jazz Notes, Quotes 2009-1...
Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-...
Jazz play great for 48 ...
Early season surprisesEarly se...
Brewer makes L.A. pay this tim...
Jazz end Lakers' 11-game winni...
Web viewing of NBA games may s...
Suns sign Louis Amundson...
Jaycee Carroll signs in Italy...
Jerry Sloan 20th anniversary g...
How to determine schedule for ...
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Windows Live
News » Jazz-Nuggets Preview 2009-10-27

Jazz-Nuggets Preview 2009-10-27

Jazz-Nuggets Preview 2009-10-27While most Western Conference contenders made big offseason moves, the Denver Nuggets were content to stick with the group that led the franchise to its first conference finals in 24 years.

The Nuggets will begin to see if their decision to rely on continuity was the right one when they open the 2009-10 season at home against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

After five consecutive first-round playoff exits, Denver reached the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1985 last season, beating New Orleans and Dallas in the first two rounds before losing in six games to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

That success has led to big expectations for 2009-10. However, while several of the West's contenders were making deals over the summer - Los Angeles signed Ron Artest, Dallas traded for Shawn Marion and San Antonio picked up Richard Jefferson - the Nuggets chose to stick with what they believe worked in 2008-09.

Four of the five starters from last season are returning, and Denver re-signed Chris Andersen, a key figure off the bench who averaged 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in 20.6 minutes per game last season.

Coach George Karl said the choice to remain quiet during the offseason was in hopes that last season's team, which accomplished so much led by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, would be eager for more.

"I think that would have maybe put too much pressure," Karl said of the potential impact of adding a big name. "It was an easy challenge to go to 'Melo, J.R. (Smith) and Nene and say, 'Hey, we think you can be better than you were last year,' and challenging them to grow. I don't think we were that far from the Lakers."

Denver is counting on another big season from Anthony and Billups. Billups will have had a full offseason to work with the Nuggets after joining them last November in a trade from Detroit. He averaged 17.9 points and 6.4 assists with Denver while providing a veteran presence to go along with Anthony after the failure of Anthony's partnership with Allen Iverson.

However, Billups doesn't believe the return of Denver's core necessarily means it will be one of the biggest threats in the West again this season.

"You've got to prove yourself all over again," said Billups, who has advanced to the conference finals each of the last seven years dating to his first season with the Pistons in 2002-03. "You can't feel like it's automatic that you're going to be good just because you've got the same players. If you feel like teams are going to lay down because you made the Western Conference finals, you're in for a real long season."

Although Denver kept most of its starting lineup in tact, it'll have to make up for the losses of role players Dahntay Jones and Linas Kleiza. Ty Lawson, the 18th overall pick in June's draft, could fill part of that void as Billups' backup.

Denver displaced Utah as Northwest Division champion last season, and the Jazz are eager to reclaim the title.

Utah suffered a first-round exit in the playoffs at the hands of the Lakers after losing in the second round the year before and the conference finals in 2007.

After the quick playoff exit, it wasn't long before the Jazz were forced to deal with the distraction caused by an unhappy Carlos Boozer. Boozer, a two-time All-Star limited to 37 games last season because of injuries, was vocal about being open to a trade. However, he was unwilling to risk free agency by opting out of the final year of his contract, and the Jazz, who insist he is part of their plans, did not move him.

"We're happy to have everybody back. That's what we've always believed in. You get a team and you try to keep them together," said coach Jerry Sloan, entering his 22nd season with Utah. "I'm not looking to trade him. If it's a good business decision for our team, we have to make those decisions."

Boozer's injury wasn't the only one to affect the Jazz last season. Point guard Deron Williams missed almost an entire month at the start of the season because of ankle problems, and Mehmet Okur struggled with a hamstring injury that limited him to two subpar performances in the playoffs.

Though Williams and Okur - the team's leading scorers in 2008-09 - appear healthy, the Jazz are already being forced to deal with injuries again. Ronnie Brewer missed the team's preseason finale with back spasms, and his status for the opener is uncertain. Starting swingman C.J. Miles is sidelined after rupturing a ligament in his left thumb earlier this month, and key reserve Kyle Korver will miss the beginning of the season after undergoing surgery on his knee.

The early injuries don't bode well for Utah's ability to address its other major concern from last season - playing on the road. The Jazz went 15-26 away from home last season and they play six of their first 10 this season outside Salt Lake City, including five road games against teams that made the playoffs last spring.

That tough stretch starts with a trip to the Pepsi Center, where Denver went 33-8 in 2008-09.

Utah and Denver split their four meetings last season, each winning both of its home games.

Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 27, 2009


Copyright ©, Inc. All rights reserved 2018.