The big news out of Portland, though, isn't the nationally televised game against the Nuggets. Instead the talk of the town is about the Blazers saying today that former first overall pick Greg Oden will have his third season ending surgery in just his third NBA season. Oden will join current Denver Nugget Kenyon Martin in a select list of athletes to have the surgery done on both knees.
The Blazers will also be without leading scorer Brandon Roy, who will miss tonight's game also with an injury to his knee -- though much, much less severe.
As for who will be playing, with Roy on the sidelines, the Blazers will be led by power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and his 17.5 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game. Denver must also matchup against two former Nuggets, Marcus Camby, who leads the team with 10.8 rebounds per game, and Andre Miller, the Blazers leading assist man at 7.8 per game.
Look for the usual cast of character for the Nuggets, with Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Arron Afflalo, Nene and Shelden Williams expected to get the start tonight. As for who to pay particular attention to, Nate Timmons at Denver Stiffs points to the Thrill From Park Hill
Nuggets: Well, I hope we'll see a good dose of [Gary] Forbes, but I'd like to focus on Billups. The Nuggets starting point guard is off to a horrible start. Billups' field goal percentage (34%) and three point percentage (29%) are his lowest since his injury shortened 13 game 1999-00 season with the Nuggets in his first go-round. Billups 4.5 assists per game are his lowest since his 2002-03 season with the Detroit Pistons, yet Billups is on the floor for 31.4 minutes per game. As Denver's point guard it is time for Billups to stop looking for his own shot and get his teammates going a little more. He's not letting the game come to him and he's forcing way to many bad shots. Billups is still finding ways to get to the foul line where he's shooting 91.2% on 6.2 attempts per game ... so there's that.
The Nuggets will play their third game in four days when they tip at 8:30 p.m. MST against the Blazers tonight during the second half of TNT's Thursday night coverage.
This will be the first game between the Northwest division foes this season, which are separated by a half game in the standings with Denver sporting a 6-5 record and Portland currently at 7-5.