An optimistic Nuggets fan walks into a bar and finds a pessimistic Nuggets fan drowning his sorrows...
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: What are you reading?
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: This is a brochure from Carnival Cruises. I'm looking for a good off-peak cruise beginning in early May, because there's no way the Nuggets are making it to June.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Boy, that's not the attitude we want. We have to root for this team on Saturday night just like the Thunder fans do in Oklahoma City. Saturday night is going to be amazing in front of the home town fans!
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Amazing? Let me tell what's amazing. What's amazing is that the Nuggets finished the season 18-7, were talked about as a Finals contender just a week ago and now they can't even sell out their playoff game on Saturday night. And you're comparing our fans to the Thunder fans? Please. Denver has already quit on this team.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Saturday night will be a sellout. You'll see. Nuggets fans are loyal and will show up to support the team...eventually. I just know it.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: I hate to break it to you, pal, but the season is over. We had so much hope. So much promise. We were the darlings of the NBA after the Carmelo Anthony trade. We were supposed to revolutionize the way basketball is played in the NBA. We were supposed to win it all without needing a superstar because we could go 10 deep. We were supposed to have so many interchangeable parts that injuries and fatigue wouldn't matter. And now what? With or without Melo, we still suck in the playoffs when we don't have home court advantage.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Come on now. The Thunder haven't won anything yet. All they've done is hold serve on their home court. Coming back to Denver, the Nuggets are going to win on Saturday and Monday and bring this series back to Oklahoma City tied two games apiece. And then the Nuggets are going to steal Game 5 and win this series in six games!
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Are you nuts?! Do you realize that only 14 teams in NBA history have come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series? 14 in NBA history! That's 6%, my friend. And in four-seed versus five-seed seven-game series matchups, which began in 2002-03, the team without home court advantage has won only twice after being down 0-2. Twice! We're toast.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: See! So it has happened before. And besides, the Thunder - since becoming "the Thunder" - have won in Denver just once. Therefore, there's no way they'll win twice in Denver over these next two games and probably won't even win one game. They haven't proven that they can win in Denver consistently.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Listen, jerkoff. The reason the Thunder have only won once in Denver is because the Nuggets had Melo in all those other games. He was a Thunder killer. With Melo, the Nuggets were undefeated against the Thunder regardless of location. 8-0. And Melo averaged 29.5 ppg against those guys in those eight wins.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Wait a sec. The Nuggets lost to the Thunder twice in Oklahoma City while Melo was on the team.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Yes, but Melo didn't play in either of those two losses due to injury.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Ahhh...
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Look, the Thunder are just better than the new-look Nuggets. Period. They've punked us in four straight games. They want it more.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Come on. They barely beat us in Denver on April 5th. George Karl sat key players and held back his playbook in the loss on April 8th since we had nothing to play for at that point. The refs screwed us in Game 1 with that missed offensive interference call. And we just had an off night in Game 2. It happens. Like Coach Karl said on Thursday, we've only played 15 minutes of awful basketball in the whole series! There's absolutely nothing to worry about.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: You see, this is exactly why we're losing to the Thunder. Always making excuses after each loss instead of making substantive adjustments for the next game. So I guess we're really 4-0 against them in our last four games even though nobody else sees it that way?
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Well, like the coach said after Game 2, when we play on Saturday night the series is 0-0. The previous four games don't matter.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Don't matter?! We're down 0-2. Do I need to remind you of our 6% chance of winning this series?
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: It's better than 0%. Plus, we'll have Arron Afflalo back. There's no way the Nuggets lose with Triple-A on the floor.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: So a guy who averages 12.6 ppg, is historically the fourth or fifth option on the team and has made one game-winner in his entire NBA career is suddenly our savior? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Afflalo (and the Nuggets better re-sign him or they can kiss me buying tickets next season good bye) but he's not our savior against the Thunder. Our savior now wears a #7 jersey and plays in New York. You think Melo would allow himself to get jobbed by Kevin Durant like Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari are?
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: What are you talking about? Durant had a very below-average game in Game 2 because those guys flustered him into a bad shooting night.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: 7-15 is a bad shooting night?! I'll tell you what a bad shooting night looks like. How 'bout Ill "Call Me Ill" Will and Gallo combining for 3-14 from the field? Or the entire Nuggets team that shot 39.1% from the field in Game 2?! Let's put it this way: when Al Harrington has your best shooting night, you're probably not winning a basketball game. And don't get me started on our free throw shooting. I'd rather take my chances with Chris Dudley at the charity stripe at this point.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: You're just being a Debbie Downer. Coach Karl is going to make great adjustments and get both Games 3 and 4 into the win column for the Nuggets. The man's won over 1,000 NBA games for a reason. He's a damn good coach and may still win the 2011 Coach of the Year Award.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: 1,000 wins, sure, but what has he done for us lately? His playoff coaching record in Denver is now 13-24 overall (excluding last year's 2-4 loss to Utah which shouldn't count on Coach Karl's record) and his career playoff series record when down 0-1? Try 2-13 on for size. We're doomed I tell ya'. Doomed!
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: But he took the Sonics to the NBA Finals! The Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals! And our Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals! How many coaches have taken three different franchises to a conference final? Would you rather have Adrian Dantley coaching the team?
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Good point. I have no rebuttal for that one.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: In fact, that Game 2 loss to the Thunder will prove to be the best thing that could have happened to us. It's always easier to rebound from a loss and make adjustments than try replicating a win. You'll see.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: You're right. I'm so glad we're down 0-2 so we don't have to try replicating two straight victories. Are you @#$%& nuts?! Making matters worse, this whole team is falling apart right before our eyes. Kenyon Martin is questioning his coach's strategy in the media and during games. J.R. Smith is already talking about playing elsewhere next season after Coach Karl threw him under the bus again a la the 2007 playoffs against the Spurs (remember the whole "he's done" fiasco?). I'm hearing rumors that Chris Andersen is super pissed off for something odd that happened in Oklahoma City with a Thunder fan. Our two seven-footers are sulking at the end of the bench knowing they could improve our rebounding. J.R. himself said the team has "no pulse." It's as if the playoffs shined a bright light on the Nuggets and they're wilting under it. What happened to our "two starting fives" everyone was raving about?!
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Oh, stop it. All these personnel issues will simply galvanize the team. I'm predicting a Nuggets blowout on Saturday night. Nuggets 115, Thunder 98.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: So am I. Thunder 113, Nuggets 94. I won't even bother watching it.
Optimistic Nuggets Fan: Well, if you happen to change your mind I have an extra ticket for you.
Pessimistic Nuggets Fan: Okay, I'll go with you. But only if you insist.
On to the links...
04-21-11: Andrew Feinstein on Elephants in the Room
I joined Renaud Notaro and Karl Hungus to talk about all the problems facing the Nuggets in their series against the Thunder.
Nuggets miss scoring punch 'Melo once provided - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
Marc Spears says that Denver is learning that playoff basketball is much harder without a go-to threat to counter Oklahoma City.
George Karl's Oklahoma City Odyssey
A great read about Coach Karl's connection to OKC through his CBA days.
Nuggets' J.R. Smith says he likely won't be back next season - The Denver Post
J.R. Smith pouts about his future in Denver. Or lack of one.
NUGGETS: Home court could help Nuggets get back in series vs. OKC
Aaron Lopez goes for the glass-is-half-full approach leading up to Game 3.
Berry Tramel: Numbers say this series belongs to Thunder | NewsOK.com
The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel is already calling this series over. I hope George Karl posts this article on the Nuggets pre-game bulletin board on Saturday night.