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Game #18: Miami Heat (10-7) vs. Denver Nuggets (13-5)

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Tonight the Heat continue their extremely difficult road trip in Denver, a team that has been at or near the top of the Western Conference all season.  Miami actually helped out the Nuggets on Tuesday by beating Portland, who now trail Denver by two games in the Northwest Division. 

I realize it seems like a long time ago, but during the Heat's great start to the season, they handed Denver their first loss, back when Miami was 4-1 and the Nugs were 5-0.  Now the Heat must try to do something they have not done since drafting Dwyane Wade back in 2003...win a game in Denver.  Miami has lost all six games played in the Pepsi Center since 03, so hopefully the ‘lucky' 7th game will prove to be just that for the Heat. 

Denver is coming off of a convincing win over Golden State in which seven different Nuggets scored in double figures.  They are led by Carmelo Anthony, who is currently the NBA's leading scorer averaging 30.7 points/game.  The Nuggets also have one of the best point guards in the league in Chauncey Billups.  

He is Denver's second leading scorer (16.9 ppg) and leads the team in assists (6.0 apg), but is having a rough year shooting the ball.  His field goal % is just 39% from the field and 36% from 3-point range, both well below the percentages he's put up the last few seasons. 

GAME NOTES

  • The Heat are coming off a game in which they dished out a season-high 24 assists. 
  • One advantage for the Heat, who have had an offensive surge in recent weeks, is that Denver is surrendering 114.8 points/game over their last four games. 
  • A couple of milestones for the Heat tonight; It will be Erik Spoelstra's 100th game as the Heat's head coach and it will be the 100th consecutive start at point guard for Mario Chalmers.  Spo has a record of 53-46 in his young NBA career. 
  • Back-to-back Nationally televised games for the Heat; tonight on TNT and tomorrow on ESPN. 
  • Miami hasn't swept a season series with Denver since the 2001-2002 season.
  • Denver is 17-1 at home in their last 18.  They had a 17-game home win streak going before their surprising loss to Minnesota on Sunday.

Tipoff from the Pepsi Center is at 10:30pm.  With the TNT crew covering the game tonight, I hope Wade gives his 'fave 5' pal Charles Barkley some good highlights.