There will be a win for the Nuggets on Wednesday? Maybe. It depends on if the Nuggets take the positives from Game One.
Some fantastic things happened in yesterdays first game that Nuggets fans should take heart in.
Brief Golden Nuggets today. I'm sure Nuggets fans want to vent.
It's very clear that, for some reason, the Thunder were NOT prepared for how tough the Nuggets were. In all honesty it seemed like the Thunder were expecting the Nuggets to roll over and play dead for them. How a team that has won jack squat in the playoffs can get that arrogant is a bit perplexing. The Thunder clearly didn't come out to play, but when they did the Nuggets withstood their emotional (and rather annoying) crowd and played the Thunder evenly it showed me quite a bit.
Nene was great, and he really got Kendrick Perkins out of his head (Perkins affect, I maintain, has been significantly overrated). Another bit of good news is that Nene came back in the game and, while he was definitely tentative, still had some big rebounds and some clutch free throws.
The Nuggets showed that the two games to conclude the season were aberrations. Injuries to both Chris Andersen and Arron Afflalo limited what the Nuggets could do. Lets face it folks, the Nuggets hit their free throws they win comfortably. While the National pundits will surely declare that the Thunder will now make quick work of the Nuggets let us also be mindful of the Nuggets blown opportunities. That was self-inflicted and had nothing to do with the Thunder's "defense". As brilliant as Reggie Miller - errrr - I mean Kevin Durant played, it took a massive offensive output from him to keep the Thunder even with the Nuggets (I say offense because Durant's version of "defense" came in the form of a feeble challenge of a Nene and-one at the end of the game). Also from Russell Westbrook who launched himself into bodies, and somehow avoided technical fouls after wildly gesticulating to the refs. Is he Kobe Bryant? (weird huh)
The offensive basket interference non-call was huge. We can argue that the course of the rest of the game was set by that one blown call. Yet, as I said above if the Nuggets hit their free throws they win comfortably. Missing 12 free throws is inexcusable. If the Nuggets are to steal game two (which I think they will) they MUST hit those free throws.
All in all, while disappointing, I must say that I'm encouraged by the Nuggets "toughness". Sure, Reggie Miller will get his points, so will his sidekick Westbrook. What about the rest of their team?
On with the links!
Oklahoma City rallies for 107-103 win in Game One - Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post
Some fantastic quotes from Kenyon Martin about guarding Kevin Durant. Also, this is another recap for those who can't get enough recap.
Kevin Durant: The mismatch that defines the Thunder - Nuggets series - Berry Trammel, NewsOK.com
A local "writer" in Oklahoma City seems to think that the Nuggets difficulties guarding Durant will be the key to the Nuggets downfall. It's certainly a problem, but this gentleman seems to think that Durant's 41 was the REASON the Thunder won. Steve Javie would like a word. Also the Nuggets free throws would like a word when Steve is done.
Kiszla: It's official - key call missed - Mark Kiszla, Denver Post
Mark Kiszla talks about the most blatant blown call since Michael Jordan pushed off on Byron Russell. Also some rant about Reggie Mi.... I mean Kevin Durant.
One costly quarter for Nene - Chris Dempsey, Denver Post
Nene had a fantastic game despite missing all of the third quarter with a knee contusion. Keep playing like that Nene.
Saunders: NBA fans get gift with first round feast, Dusty Saunders, Denver Post
In the "YESSIR" part of the program, Dusty Saunders (veteren TV critic from the Rocky Mountain News and who's now at the Post) talks about the gift from heaven these first-round games have been. One of the best weekends of basketball the NBA has experienced in quite some time.
Have a great morning everyone.
Oh, and a note to the people who don't like my "homer" tone and the rather aggressive stance I take on Oklahoma and Durant - well - wait till you see my preview for game two.