(4) Denver Nuggets (53-29) vs. (5) Utah Jazz (53-29)
Series schedule: Game 1 – Today at Denver 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN); Game 2 – Monday 4/19 at Denver 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT); Game 3 – Friday 4/23 at Utah 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2); Game 4 – Sunday 4/25 at Utah 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT); Game 5 – Wednesday 4/28 * at Denver TBD; Game 6 – Friday 4/30 * at Utah TBD; Game 7 – Sunday 5/2 * at Denver TBD. – *If necessary.
Series keys: For Denver: 1. Rediscover its swag (Nuggets have lost it since their head coach, George Karl, left team for cancer treatments). 2. Nene can’t settle (Denver big man must score big to keep Carlos Boozer honest). 3. Play a little defense (Nuggets allowed 102.3 points this season. For Utah: 1. Keep Denver off the line (Nuggets have made 1,924 free throws and attempted 2,487). 2. Bench must produce (With Boozer’s strained oblique and Andrei Kirilenko’s strained left calf, Jazz bench must step up). 3. Attack Denver’s heart (Carmelo Anthony is their star, but Chauncey Billups makes the Nuggets go. Deron Williams must get him in foul trouble).
Series outcome: Nuggets will win the series in six games, but somebody other than Billups – hint to Carmelo – must take over the leadership role.
1. Carlos Boozer to be a game-time decision for Utah playoff opener at Denver – The Canadian Press
2. Nuggets championship clock ticking – Denver Post
3. Doctor: Karl could be back for second round – ESPN