Games like this one are why we watch sports.
The significance of tonight’s game cannot be understated. More than a playoff birth rests on the outcome. The Nuggets were an NBA also ran for years, but have been in the playoffs four straight seasons. They have a team that was put together to be a championship contender. This is their year to take a big step forward. A loss in Golden State tonight virtually assures that all the momentum and work that has gone into this team over the past four plus seasons will be lost.
Not only will a loss tonight stop their momentum, but a loss will signal an end to this team as we know it. The Nuggets are a veteran team with a lot of big salary players. Missing the playoffs would make it nearly impossible to justify bringing this team back as it is currently constituted next season.
The Nuggets are not the only team with those types of pressures. The Warriors find themselves in a somewhat similar situation. They ended the league’s longest active playoff drought last season and pulled the biggest upset in the first round we have ever witnessed. How disappointing would it be for that team to miss the playoffs after making a leap like that last season? They may not be playing for the survival of their team going forward like the Nuggets are, but missing the playoffs would be a major blow to their momentum that was created last season.
As devastating as a loss will be for the vanquished team, this game could catapult the winner into a magical playoff run. Whoever ends up in the eighth spot will most likely face the New Orleans Hornets. Do you think either of these teams would be afraid heading into that matchup?
What it all boils down to is this is the biggest regular season game of the season in the NBA and one of the most important regular season games in Nuggets history.
The players are all ware of the significance of this game. They know they are playing for more than a playoff birth. They also know that a big performance in a game like tonight will be remembered for years by the fans. Sports immortality can be achieved tonight.
These two teams have played three times this year and Denver has won two of the three, including the previous game at the Roaracle. We know what we are going to see. Both teams will play at a very fast pace. Golden State will go small and force Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and Nene (should he play) to have to step out and guard the three point line. Baron Davis will be a beast with his deadly inside/outside game. Melo will work over whoever is guarding him on the block and AI will be very aggressive off the dribble. We will probably see a bunch of 30 point quarters followed by a 20 point fourth quarter when things get really tight.
We could talk about who is playing well and who is not, but in a game like this it does not matter. It does not matter that Melo has been red hot over his last three games or that Steven Jackson has had some of the worst games of his career in the past few days. Everyone is going to show up tonight. Every player on the floor will be ready to contribute whatever they can.
Ultimately, I cannot fathom this game not coming down to the final few possessions.
With so much riding on the outcome, I would not have it any other way.