Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Hornets Game 4 NBA Playoff Preview and Pick

Denver Nuggets +2.5 at New Orleans Hornets -2.5 8:30 PM ET Monday April 27, 2009 on NBA TV
By Jason Green at

Denver leads this best of 7 series 2-1.

Tonight the Denver Nuggets are in the Big Easy to play the New Orelans Hornets in the fourth game in this Western Conference first round series. The Hornets lost the first two games if this series in Denver and then won a close game on Saturday night to get back in the series. The Nuggets shot the rock well in the first two games at home, but in game 3 they were cold only shooting a hair above 40% from the floor. Two of their main scorers, Chauncey Billups and super 6th man J.R. Smith only combined for 29 points on a combined 8/24 from the floor. These two need to bounce back tonight if the Nuggets want to take a 3-1 lead in this series.

Even though the Hornets did not have the best shooting game Chris Paul carried them in game 3. Peja Stojakovic and David West need to help him out, as in game 3 they scored a total of 23 points on a combined 8/27 shooting. Stojakovic was horrid in game 3 only scoring 4 points going 1/9 from the floor and missing all 4 of his 3-point bombs. If these guys do not help Paul out and the Nuggets find their shooting stroke tonight they will go down 3-1 in this series.

This season the Hornets were 28-13 at home and the Nuggets were 21-20 away from the Mile High City.

Basketball bookies have the Hornets as 2.5 favorites in this game with a total around 193. The Hornets are posted at -165 as home favorites and the Nuggets are posted at +145 as road dogs.

In game 3 the Hornets beat the Nuggets 95-93 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Hornets in that game was Chris Paul going for 32 points and also dishing out 12 assists. For the game the Hornets shot 30/69 from the field for a FG% of 43.5. The high scorer for the Nuggets in that game was Carmelo Anthony going for 25 points on 10/24 shooting. For the game the Nuggets were only 30/74 from the floor for a FG% of 40.5%.

This season the Nuggets ranked 6th in scoring (104.3 ppg) and the Hornets only ranked 26th (95.8 ppg). On defense the Hornets gave up an average of 94.3 ppg and the Nuggets gave up an average of 100.9 ppg. These teams were pretty close this season in terms of hitting the boards, as the Nuggets had a rebounding differential of +0.4rpg and the Hornets were at -0.3 rpg.

This season the Nuggets 45-35-2 ATS and the Hornets were 35-45-2. In terms of Over/Under games this season the Nuggets were 42-39-1 and the Hornets were 33-48-1.

On the injury front SF James Posey is day-to-day for the Hornets while the Nuggets are not reporting any significant injuries.

The Hornets only played 3 reserves on Saturday night and they will, once again, rely on their starters, as they have a weak bench. One of those reserves was James Posey who the Hornets picked up this season to give them some bench help and he finally showed up in this series going for 13 points including 2/5 from 3-point land.

The Hornets need to stay out of foul trouble tonight because of their weak bench, as in game 3 they won, but both Tyson Chandler and David West fouled out and Posey played with 5 fouls for most of the 4th quarter.

The Nuggets have to play better perimeter defense on Paul and not allow him to have a big scoring game.

For the Nuggets it is all about their shooting, as they need to shoot the rock better tonight. You can see that is the case as in game 3 the Nuggets had more rebounds, more assists, less turnovers, and shot a better 3-point FG% and still lost.

Billiups is the 3rd leading scorer in the playoffs this season and he needs to shake off his bad shooting game for the Nuggets to win tonight.

Nene’ (2 points on 1/4 shooting) disappeared in game 3 and he and Kenyon Martin have to give the Nuggets some interior scoring to open up the perimeter for Carmelo Anthony and Billups.

This game will come down to which team can play to their strength, as if the Nuggets can get out and run and score they will win, but if the Hornets can slow it down and play solid D they will win.

Jason’s Pick: I like the Hornets to protect the home court and win by 5-7.