Wednesday, October 31, 7:00 PM at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
38-28 in 2011-12
35-31 in 2011-12
TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
NOTE: Comcast SportsNet HD is now on XFinity® Channel 847
by Max Rappaport
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
F Kenneth Faried vs. F Thaddeus Young
Both known for their relentless motors and elite physical tools, sophomore Kenneth Faried and veteran Thaddeus Young will square off for the first time ever. In the team’s only meeting last season, on January 18, the then-rookie Nugget was a healthy scratch, as he was for all but four of Denver’s first 21 games. By mid-February, though, Faried had earned a spot in George Karl’s rotation; he never looked back. He started 37 of the team’s final 38 regular season games last season, averaging 11.8 points (59.6% FG), 8.2 rebounds, 1.0 block, and 0.9 steals in 24.8 minutes per game. Nicknamed “Manimal,” Faried finished third in the NBA in Rookie of the Year voting in 2012 and is a darkhorse candidate for Most Improved Player this season. He averaged 10.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in the 2012 Preseason.
Thaddeus Young has put on over 20 pounds of muscle this offseason, which he hopes will benefit him when facing physical rebounders like Faried. Now entering his sixth season, Young has averaged 12.8 points (52.5% FG) and 5.2 rebounds per game since moving to power forward full time under head coach Doug Collins two seasons ago.
Facing Faried on opening night will pose a great challenge for the six-year veteran, Young, who’s making his first opening night start since 2009.
Mile-high A Minute
Led by George Karl (1,074-731 career), the Nuggets feature one of the league’s fastest-paced offenses. The oft-underrated Nuggets quietly amassed 38 wins during the 2011-12 regular season (.576 win percantage), earning the sixth seed in the West. They ultimately fell in seven games to the third-seeded Lakers in the first round of the 2012 Playoffs. A potent offensive team, Denver is perhaps also the league’s most athletically gifted. With a frontcourt featuring dynamic frontcourt defenders Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee and a backcourt comprised of speedster Ty Lawson and former Slam Dunk Contest participant, and Sixer, Andre Iguodala, the Nuggets pose matchup nightmares for the NBA’s more halfcourt-centric teams.
Denver scored more points per game (104.1) than any team in the league last season. Amazingly, they accomplished this feat with a leading scorer, guard Ty Lawson led, who averaged just 16.4 points per game. They also led the league in assists last season, at 19.3 per contest. The team was led in that regard by Lawson and former-Sixer guard `Andre Miller, both of whom finished top 10 in the NBA in assists in 2011-12.
A Familiar Foe
The Nuggets were, of course, part of the four-team megadeal that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers, Andrew Bynum to the Sixers, Arron Afflallo, picks, and prospects to the Magic, and Andre Iguodala to Denver. With the former Sixer on board, the Nuggets will likely see their assist total improve even further.
Iguodala, as many Sixers fans are well aware, thrives in transition, where he is both a pinpoint set-up man and a ferocious finisher. Expect to see the Nuggets, who featured the second-highest paced offense in the NBA last season, get out and run even more this season. It’s a scary thought, but, fortunately, the Sixers have the athletes and the depth to keep up with Denver’s relentless attack.
Defensively, the Nuggets feature one of the league’s top shot-blockers in JaVale McGee. The seven-footer wreaks havoc when closing from the weakside, where he uses his supreme leaping ability and freakish wingspan to alter and swat shots in the paint. McGee, who was aqcuired by the Nuggets at last season’s trade deadline, will likely come off the bench to start the season, with fellow seven-footer Kosta Koufos holding down the starting spot. Koufos started 24 games for the Nuggets last season.
LAST TIME THEY MET:
1/18/2012 - Sixers 104, Nuggets 108 (OT)
The last time these two teams met, Andre Miller was the difference maker, scoring 28 points, dishing out 10 assists, and pulling down eight boards. Center Nenê, now with the Washington Wizards, added 20 points and 14 rebounds. Evan Turner contributed nine fourth-quarter points to help turn a 10-point deficit into a three-point lead with under six minutes to play. His efforts were enough to help force overtime, but the Nuggets were able to pull ahead in extra time to secure the 108-104 victory.
Notes: The Sixers bench, led by Thaddeus Young’s 22 points, scored 54. Andre Iguodala, then playing for the Sixers, fell one assist shy of a triple-double, posting 11 points, 10 rebounds, and nine dimes.