W2W4: Nene leads young Nuggets to town

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
1:00
PM CT
The Dallas Mavericks have plenty to improve upon tonight as the Denver Nuggets -- with former Mavs forward Corey Brewer and former Mavs guard that never was Rudy Fernandez -- open their season at American Airlines Center.

The good news is the Nuggets aren't the Miami Heat, who outrebounded Dallas 51-31, scored 97 points through three quarters and drove to the rim with impunity. Still, a revamped Nuggets squad that is without the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler averaged 118.5 points in two preseason games and will look to run and gun and hand the defending champions consecutive losses for the first time since April 21 and 23 in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"The rebounding is a concern, turnovers are a concern, overall defense from a consistency standpoint is a concern," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Denver is going to come in here with a shot at the champs. It's a situation where we've got to work to make quantum leaps as often and as quickly as we can as a team.

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center

TV: FSSW

Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: So, who starts at shooting guard? Vince Carter started Sunday, but Delonte West got the call to start the second half against the Heat because Carlisle said he was looking for playmaking. Carlisle also said the starter at two-guard could change from game to game depending on matchups. The Nuggets start veteran Andre Miller at point guard and the 6-foot-5 Aaron Afflalo is expected to start at shooting guard. This would seem to favor Carter starting with West coming off the bench to back up Jason Kidd and check Denver reserve Ty Lawson. ... Look for the Mavs to involve Lamar Odom early in the offensive sets. He swished his first shot on his first possession entering the game midway through the first quarter, but he missed all of his next five shots and was saddled with early foul trouble before ejected in the third quarter for arguing a charging call.

Key matchup: Brendan Haywood vs. Nene
Haywood had little offensive impact Sunday and defensively he finished up Sunday's opener with no blocked shots and one defensive rebound in 13:38 of playing time. The Heat don't have much of a low-post game, instead using their All-NBA wings to attack the rim. Tonight Haywood gets a chance to bang with skilled and agile big man Nene, who spurned lucrative free-agent offers elsewhere to return to a young and intriguing Nuggets team. Haywood was plagued by foul trouble Sunday, picking up two quickies before the end of the first half for three and then another quick one to start the second half for a fourth. On the surface, this is a difficult matchup for Haywood, but asking Ian Mahinmi or Brandan Wright to stick with Nene for long stretches could be a dangerous proposition.

Injuries: Nuggets - None. Mavs - Shawn Marion (fractured left pinkie finger) is probable.

Up next: Mavs at Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m., Thursday

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9