Tuesday's NBA Guide: Spurs, Nuggets Jostle For No. 2 Status

FanHouse's NBA Guide gives you a daily look at all the games that matter ... and some that don't.

San Antonio at Denver, 9PM ET

Veterans of the 2007 playoffs might roll their eyes, but quite simply your Nuggets are dead. Denver Today might not be up to San Antonio's long-extant standard, but it's closer than ever before.

The Nuggets and Spurs sit within a few games of one another in the standings, both having paid their injury penance (Denver missing Carmelo Anthony for nearly a month, S.A. playing a good chunk of November and December without Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili). Given depth issues in New Orleans, injury concerns and fit in Houston, the hydrogen bomb ripping through the air above Phoenix and whatnot/so-forth in Dallas and Utah, our two Headliner squads seems like the teams best in position to challenge L.A., now or later.

Again, the Spurs have the upper hand. But Denver hasn't been this close to elite in ages. San Antonio's defense has regained its stellar form -- though it sits behind the top three (Cleveland, Boston, Orlando) by a good margin (three points per 100 possessions, which is also the gap between S.A. and average). In other words, Denver can score on the Spurs. How efficiently?, and Is the opposite (S.A. scoring efficiently on Denver) possible?

Boston at Philadelphia, 7PM ET

Samuel Dalembert sprained an ankle late last week, but played -- short minutes, badly -- on Saturday. Elton Brand was awful on offense off the bench, and Philly dropped a home match to mediocre New Jersey. Bad news.

The word is that Dalembert will again play; whether he can deny Rajon Rondo easy access to the rim is a question we'll have to consider at about 7:12PM. For all his shortcomings, Dalembert is one of the league's few dominating defensive big men. His lack of scoring acumen, his woeful handle and his overall veneer of dispassion earns him scorn in Philadelphia and beyond. But really, most bad defenses would be lucky to have a nuisance like Sam as their backstop, even at $10 million or so per season.

Chicago at Houston, 8:30PM ET

The Bulls are hot, Houston is magnificently curious. Hard not to watch.

Minnesota at Indiana, 7PM ET
Toronto at Cleveland, 7PM ET
Milwaukee at New Jersey, 7:30PM ET

Tuesday's NBA Guide: Spurs, Nuggets Jostle For No. 2 Status originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Tue, 03 Feb 2009 18:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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