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Nuggets split on whether there should be 'no rest for the weary'

May 19, 2009 | 12:38 pm

The Denver Nuggets have been waiting around for the Lakers. Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups wished Denver didn't have five days between games.

"If it was my way, I’d continue to play," he said.

Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony said he "couldn't thank Houston enough to force that Game 7," allowing the Nuggets five days to rest before facing the Lakers tonight in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

"I never heard of someone getting too much rest," said Anthony, who used the time between games to recover from bruising his left thigh in Game 5 of the semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks.

Denver, who's made its first Western Conference final since 1985, appears split on whether it'll benefit from having five days off between series. While the Lakers and Rockets slugged it out, the Nuggets held light practices Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These consisted of more work on defensive drills, a key factor Nuggets Coach George Karl and players say led to a a franchise 54-28 record and forcing a league-best 16.4 turnovers a game in the postseason.

Even Karl remains unsure if his team drew a good hand.

"How do you know?" Karl said. "How do you know with this team? It’s the first time we’ve been here."

A report in the Wall Street Journal found that there have been 50 "rest-advantaged teams" in the past 40 years of the playoffs through last spring. The WSJ said 31 of those teams advanced to the finals. The WSJ's criteria to become a rest-advantaged team included the following:

-- Playing two fewer games in the prior round than your conference-finals opponent (or a gap bigger than two games)

-- Playing three fewer games, total, in all prior playoff round than your conference-finals opponent (or a gap bigger than three games)

-- Playing an opponent that has had just one day off before the conference finals begin, when you’ve had at least three days off; or playing an opponent that has had just two days off, when you’ve had six days off or more.

We won't know which scenario will play out until the series starts tonight. But Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin knows one thing.

"For us, it could go either way," Martin said. "If we lose, some people will say it was bad. If we win, some will say it was good."

-- Mark Medina

Photo: The Denver Nuggets have been waiting around for the Lakers. Credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA