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It’s not business as usual for the Pistons as they are set to go against their longtime teammate Chauncey Billups for the first time since the trade for Allen Iverson tonight in Denver.

Chauncey has put his new team (2nd) in a place where they haven’t been in a while… the top half of the Western Conference. Denver (25-12) is on a 5 game winning streak even without the help of Carmelo Anthony, who is sidelined with a broken hand.

Now we all had thoughts about the trade before it happened and now. So The Nugg Doctor and I sat down for a little word association therapy session, his thoughts on Chauncey and mine on Allen Iverson.

N4S: Likes

ND: I’m not going to bore you with stats because we both know what each man brings to his team every night so what I like about Chauncey Billups is the steady hand he brings. The Nuggets are a team that in recent years could give you a heart attack on any given night, but this year things are a little bit different with Billups. The Nuggets are undefeated when entering the fourth quarter with a lead and are also undefeated this year when Chauncey reaches double-figures in assists. This is a testament to the change in basketball culture within this team that Billups brought. Chauncey’s presence, with his leveling of the emotions and contagious focus on the moment, has silently put a killer instinct back in the Nuggets regardless of the few sizable leads they have given up to a few questionable teams.

N4S: Dislikes

ND: It could just be the honeymoon feeling lingering, but I can’t really think of anything I don’t like about having Mr. Big Shot back in Denver. He’s a hometown hero that’s quickly becoming a Cinderella story. Nobody thought the Nuggets would be second place overall in the Western Conference at practically the midway point in the year, but yet here we are at 25-12 and with only the Lakers out to a better start in the West.

N4S: Changes he brought

ND: The biggest change in the Nuggets that I’ve seen directly attributed to Chauncey Billups is a change in basketball culture. The Nuggets have been a bit of circus sideshow the last few years with a ton of statistical and individual anomalies as well as other honors, but that hasn’t added up to a hill of beans come playoff time. Barring ANOTHER serious injury, that shouldn’t be the case this year. The main reason I believe this is in addition to the steady hand I’ve already mentioned  the fact that Chauncey has won a championship ring, and a Finals MVP award, and that has guys listening with their ears perked when Chauncey has something to say.  Before the trade, I felt that this was kind of a me-for-me basketball team, win or lose, made up of individuals who were going to try and fill their own agendas often times at the detriment to the team. This year, Chauncey’s leadership and championship resume has been a focal point based upon his team-first style of play and the Nuggets have bought into that and it’s been paying off.

N4S: Surprises

ND: I’ve been most pleasantly surprised by Chauncey’s defense. AI was way too much of a gambler on defense for me personally and after watching the way Chauncey more discriminately picks his opportunities on defense it was an area of improvement that the Nuggets desperately needed.


N4S: Expectations

ND: I’d settle for a first round win in the playoffs, but honestly I’m expecting more than that with this year’s Nuggets as long as they can all stay healthy. Kenyon Martin is having a fantastic year, Nene is true inspiration after fighting cancer, and with the gusto of Carmelo and the guidance of Chauncey there is no reason why this team couldn’t make it to the Western Finals. Denver’s also has a great cast the role players with Dahntay Jones, Linas Kleiza, J.R. Smith, and the “Birdman” Chris Andersen bringing their wildly different but effective games every night makes this a very special crew.

Thanks go out to Nick Sclafani, AKA The Nugg Doctor, for giving us some Denver insight. Remember to head on over to The Nugg Doctor for my thoughts on Iverson.

Chauncey Says:

“I’m looking forward to seeing my guys. It’s going to be fun,” Billups said.

But he’s not out to prove anything about anybody giving up on him too soon.

“I’m good. I’ve proved everything I could in that city. I’m doing it now here,” Billups said. “I’m just looking forward to seeing my dudes, competing, playing, having a fun game. That’s all.” Via NBA.com

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knlgJ665fb4

Tip off is at 9:00 P.M. and will be locally broadcast on FSN . If you can’t watch the broadcast, tune into 1130 AM The Fan. Can’t do either? Follow the game on NBA.com.