Seeking first series win since '94, Nuggets facing tall task

April 21, 2007|By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE -- Allen Iverson arrived in Denver in a league-shaking trade for one reason: to give the Nuggets a chance to win a playoff series.

They haven't won in the postseason since 1994, and the sixth-seeded Nuggets face a difficult task against third-seeded San Antonio, a winner of 59 games.

But the presence of Iverson as a complement to all-star forward Carmelo Anthony (Towson Catholic) could give Denver a realistic chance to spring a first-round upset.

The Nuggets won 10 of 11 regular-season games in April, showing they would not be pushovers for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and the savvy Spurs.

George Karl's top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics were the victim the last time the Nuggets won a playoff series. Now it is Karl trying to provide a first-round shocker as coach of the Nuggets.

"The last couple years in the playoffs, we had a lot of teams just load up on Melo and make it tough for the other guys out there," Nuggets center Marcus Camby told the Denver Post. "But now you have to sort of pick your poison.

"If you try to take 'Melo away, it's going to free up A.I., and he just relishes that moment."

Duncan already has sounded a warning, saying he hopes NBA officials don't retaliate against the Spurs in the playoffs for Duncan's role in the recent suspension of veteran official Joey Crawford. NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Crawford indefinitely after he ejected Duncan, who was not on the court but was laughing while seated on the Spurs' bench.

Nene and Camby will battle with Duncan in the paint, and Denver will need a good series from Nene, the physical Brazilian who has averaged 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds in 10 games this month.

Maryland alum Steve Blake has thrived in Denver, and he will be called upon to try to slow down Spurs point guard Tony Parker.

Denver has not played that well at home this season (23-18), and the Nuggets will need to win at home to have any chance of beating the Spurs.

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