Nuggets win Game 5, lose Nene

The Nuggets beat the Jazz, 116-102, in Game 5, but they may have lost Nene for the rest of the season. They’re calling it a sprained knee, but they’re fearful that he may have torn his ACL.

The Nuggets are down 3-2 against a shorthanded Jazz team that is missing Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko. If the Nuggets lose Nene, they’ll have to lean on Chris Andersen and Johan Petro at center. (Man, wouldn’t Marcus Camby look good in the middle right now?)

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Why won’t the Nuggets run more pick-and-roll?

Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop brought up an interesting statistic regarding the struggling Nuggets:

According to Synergy Sports, the Nuggets have choreographed a pick-and-roll — then hit the roll man — 17 times in this series. The results:

* Nine made baskets
* Six trips to the free throw line
* Two missed shot attempts

That’s an 88.2 percent success rate.

Those 17 possessions in sequence is an impressive reel of video. Ball-handlers/passers include Billups, Anthony, Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith. All the Nuggets bigs are represented among the roll men. Whatever the scenario, the Nuggets score on 15 of the 17 opportunities, which leaves you with one question:

Why are the Nuggets running this action only four times per game?

When asked why his team isn’t running what seems to be working, interim head coach Adrian Dantley had this to say:

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Okur to have MRI on injured Achilles

To add insult to injury, or possibly injury to insult, the Jazz lost more than Game 1 on Saturday night. They may have lost Mehmet Okur as well.

Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur was helped off the court after reinjuring his left Achilles tendon in the second quarter of Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Okur left the arena on crutches, ESPN’s Holly Rowe reported.

“I felt something pop,” said Okur, who will undergo an MRI on Sunday.

This is a blow to an already thin frontcourt that is without Andrei Kirilenko for the next couple of weeks. Without Okur, the Jazz are left with two big men that get regular minutes — Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap. Kosta Koufos or Kyrylo Fesenko will have to step in and play. Otherwise, the Jazz will have to ride Boozer and Millsap and go very small when they give one or the other a rest.

I thought Utah would squeak out a series victory, but with Okur and Kirilenko out, they face an uphill battle.

Your quick and dirty NBA Playoffs preview

The matchups are set and the first round starts this weekend. In the East, the top four teams — Cleveland, Orlando, Boston and Atlanta — seem like good bets to advance, while in the West, I wouldn’t be shocked if the bottom four seeds — Utah, Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City — were to make the second round. Here’s a quick look at each series:


Cavaliers vs. Bulls
It’s not often that a team that had a 10-game losing streak end in mid-February recovers and makes the postseason, but that’s exactly what the Bulls have done, winning 10 of their last 14 to capture the final playoff spot in the East. Chicago has the tools to make this a series, and with Shaquille O’Neal coming back from a long break, there’s a chance this could go to six or seven games. But in the end, Cleveland should have plenty of firepower to put the Bulls away.

Celtics vs. Heat
If there’s going to be an upset in the East, this will probably be it. The C’s have limped into the playoffs, losing eight of their last 13 games. Meanwhile, the Heat went 18-4 in February and March, but were just 4-3 against teams with winning records. Boston swept the season series despite Dwyane Wade’s terrific numbers (34-5-9, 50% shooting), so if anyone else steps up, the streaking Heat have a good shot at stealing the first or second game and gaining control of the series.

Hawks vs. Bucks
If Andrew Bogut were healthy, I’d pick Milwaukee, but the Bucks are going to have a tough time winning a seven-game series against a pretty good Atlanta team that has won 13 of its last 19 games. The Bucks’ defense could keep the games (and the series) close, but the Hawks should have enough to move on.

Magic vs. Bobcats
Orlando is peaking at the right time, going 19-3 in February and March. However, one of those losses was at home against Charlotte. The Bobcats are playing well too — they’re 16-7 over their last 23 games. Both teams are excellent defesively; they’re tied for first in defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions), so expect a few tight games. But Orlando just has too much talent.

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