Following their 8th loss in their last 10 games, the Utah Jazz are hoping to turn things around against a familiar divisional foe in the Denver Nuggets. When I say familiar, I say it in the sense that they have had history with this franchise, especially in recent years. However, some of the faces that they will be seeing are not all that familiar in this heated rivalry. As all of you know, unless you haven’t kept up with the NBA in the last few weeks, the Denver Nuggets sent their franchise player, Carmelo Anthony, to the New York Knicks for Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, and Timofey Mozgov. None of these players come even close to the level of talent that ‘Melo possesses, yet the Nuggets have not shown much of a decline since the trade took place. It’s possible that ‘Melo’s departure was a weight lifted off of Denver’s shoulders, as the possibility of him leaving had been looming over the team for quite some time. Then again, in the long run, I think this trade is going to hurt the Nuggets greatly.
But just as ‘Melo’s departure from Denver will impact this divisional rivalry, the departure of Deron Williams from Utah will also change the dynamics of these matchups. Both players were the unquestioned leaders of their ball-clubs and both teams will certainly miss them. Despite the fact that the main players of the rivalry have left, it doesn’t mean that these teams will not have a carry-over effect and stop hating each other. There are still a bunch of players from last year’s playoff series, and the new faces will surely embrace this rivalry quickly. Feeling the buzz in the arena will definitely get everybody excited and have their adrenaline pumping. Guys like Devin Harris, who play at a quick pace, will thrive in a setting like this, and I am very excited to see what he does in games against the Nuggets.
Another missing player who is worth mentioning is Chauncey Billups. Billups has shown his importance to a team as he has played extremely well with the Knicks in his first few games, especially in crunch time. For the Nuggets to lose a player who is so clutch is really important, and the Jazz are absolutely relieved. Outside of Billups’ clutch factor, he is a great floor general who can get his team in line when the ship starts to rock.
Overall I think that this rivalry took a hit. Even though that’s the case, I think that it will still be intense, and the new players will make their mark rather quickly. At the end of the day, these two teams play in the same division, and it is evident what is expected from each team from a motivational standpoint. If you think that these teams are going to be sweet to each other from now on, think again.