With one of the NBA’s best offensive players on their roster, the Denver Nuggets couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs. They hope the addition of a proven court leader can help them take the next step.
Iverson is one of the top scoring threats in the league and a former MVP, but Nuggets coach George Karl is excited to have Billups, a proven point guard that can run Denver’s up-tempo offense.
“Hopefully it’s a piece that makes it fit,” Karl said.
Billups helped lead the Pistons to six straight Eastern Conference finals and was named the MVP of the 2004 NBA finals when Detroit beat the Los Angeles Lakers. Karl hopes Billups’ leadership and playoff experience can help the Nuggets, who were swept in the first round of last season’s playoffs and have been eliminated in the opening round in each of the past five years.
Billups is a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive player that grew up in Denver and starred at Colorado.
“Chauncey will be a big part of our team,” Dahntay Jones said. “The dynamic of this team will change with him.”
The 7-foot-1 Samb, who led the NBA Development League with 4.0 blocks a game last season, could also play Friday, while the Nuggets will try to buy out McDyess’ contract.
In their first game without Iverson, the Nuggets lost to Golden State 111-101 on Wednesday as the Warriors scored 10 of the game’s final 12 points.
Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 28 points and eight rebounds, and Nene stepped up his play in Iverson’s absence, scoring 19 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
Anthony looked much sharper Wednesday after finishing with 13 points and shooting 5-for-15 from the field in Saturday’s 104-97 loss to the Lakers, his first game of the season. The two-time All-Star was suspended for the first two games for receiving a DUI in April.
The Nuggets took two of three from the Mavericks (2-2) last season, averaging 120.0 points in the wins and scoring 85 in the loss.
Anthony missed Denver’s loss to Dallas in January with a sprained left ankle. He averaged 27.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the victories.
The Mavericks are coming off an impressive 98-81 win over San Antonio on Tuesday after Monday’s humiliating 100-81 home loss to Cleveland.
On Tuesday, Dallas got a big lift from Jason Terry, who scored 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting in his first start of the season. Terry had just five points and shot 1-for-8 Monday, and since the start of last season, the Mavericks are 12-4 when he scores 22 or more points.
“Jet (Terry) really came out,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We definitely need his offense in our group. Whether he starts or is off the bench, we need his shooting and we need his scoring.”
Nowitzki had 30 points and went 13-of-24 from the field Tuesday after scoring only eight points and shooting 3-for-11 Monday. He averaged 32.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games versus the Nuggets in 2007-08.
The Mavericks are off to a solid start on the road this season, winning their first two games by an average of 13.5 points. They have not started a season 3-0 on the road since winning their first seven games away from home in 2002-03.
Dallas has lost its last two games in Denver after winning eight of its previous 11 there.