Saturday, April 17, 2010;
Why the Nuggets can win: Denver backed into the division title after a rocky finish without George Karl, who will miss at least the first round while undergoing cancer treatment. But the Nuggets still have Carmelo Anthony, defensive anchor Kenyon Martin and battle-tested point guard Chauncey Billups, who led them to the conference finals last year.
Why the Jazz can win: Utah is banged up with Andrei Kirilenko out with a strained left calf, Carlos Boozer day-to-day with a strained oblique, and Mehmet Okur nursing a sore Achilles' tendon. But Deron Williams, perhaps the best point guard in the game, has grown accustomed to carrying the Jazz through hard times, and Jerry Sloan has the advantage in coaching over Adrian Dantley.
Difference maker: Martin, Nuggets. Denver went 13-8 after losing Martin to a knee injury late in the season. Martin was healthy for all four regular season meetings, with the Nuggets winning three.
Bottom line: Nuggets in six.
Saturday: Utah at Denver, 10:30
Monday: Utah at Denver, 10:30
April 23: Denver at Utah, 10:30
April 25: Denver at Utah, 9:30
April 28*: Utah at Denver, TBD
April 30*: Denver at Utah, TBD
May 2*: Utah at Denver, TBD
* -- if necessary