In a year filled with ups and downs for Denver, no greater up or down, pre-playoffs of course, will be felt than the emotions sure to run after tomorrows game. Whether Denver finds a way to beat Dallas or succumbs to yet another heartbreaking loss, the team, the coach (get well soon!), the organization and the fans will feel it....hard.
This moment has been being built for ages. It goes further then just this season even. Denver's second round battle with Dallas last year set the stage. On all accounts the Nuggets beat the Mavericks pretty soundly, however while the games themselves were classy and well played, the antics were not. I doubt anyone on either side who was there to witness it has forgotten Mark Cuban and his spat with K-mart's mom. Nor have they forgot Chauncey Billups' infamous quote "We don't plan on going back to Dallas" (which of course we didn't). Beyond the history there is the simple facts of the matter here. Denver and Dallas are tied 1 game a piece in the season series, thus this game serves as a tie breaker. It's quite possible that these two teams go 2 and 3 in the seeding which means this game could very much be for home court advantage in the second round. With the teams being nearly identical in standings (Denver is 48-26 whereas Dallas is 48-25) and only 8 (or 9 in Dallas' case) games remaining its hard to imagine either one overcoming what would essentially be a 2 game hole in that short amount of time. Unfortunately for Denver the odds are stacked against them.
The health issues of the Nuggets are well known: Kenyon Martin-Out, Ty Lawson-Playing but apparently not game ready enough to be a factor, Coach Karl- At home getting cancer treatment, Chris Andersen- continues to play despite a slew of injuries, however it goes further then missing just these three and a half cogs. With the Nuggets playing last night in Orlando (and the starters racking up serious minutes) and also playing the last 4 games on the road (in only six days) they are sure to be weary. Most times, this is a game you concede, you might put up a decent effort but in the end it just seems like insurmountable odds. Denver is no longer afforded this luxury. This game is an absolute must win for the 2 seed.
I believe this game will true show us who the Denver Nuggets are, one way or another. If they come out, put up a half baked effort an fold to Dallas then I think it shows they do not have the mental toughness and discipline to compete for a championship. If, however, they come out with fire and passion and leave it all out on the floor. Then regardless of the outcome we will know that this team has a chance, even if its only a punchers one, to take the crown, whether or not game 7 of round 2 is played in Denver.