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Game 4 Nuggets vs. Thunder: Nothing is over (8:30pm MDT)

Can Arron Afflalo and his Denver Nuggets channel their inner Keith Bishop?
Can Arron Afflalo and his Denver Nuggets channel their inner Keith Bishop?

During the AFC Championship game, played on January 11, 1987, the Denver Broncos found themselves down 20-13 with just 5:43 left in the game ... in their season. The Broncos needed to go 98 yards and had to get seven points just to tie the game. With nerves abound in the huddle offensive guard Keith Bishop famously uttered, "We got these guys right where we want 'em." The Broncos drove down field, scored a touchdown, and won the game in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl. While the Nuggets surely are not happy down 0-3 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team needs to find their spark as the season hangs in the balance.


The particulars ...

Game: 4
Records:
Denver:
0-3 (0-1 at home)
Streak: Lost 3.
Oklahoma City: 3-0 (1-0 on road)
Streak: Won 3.
Injuries:
Denver
: Arron Afflalo (right hamstring strain) is probable ... now the right hammy is hurting.
Oklahoma City: None.

Playoff Series: 3-0 Thunder.

Opposition's Take: Welcome to Loud City, Daily Thunder

Even though the Nuggets are down 0-3 to the Thunder, it's not like Denver has been dominated in this series. In Game 1 the Nuggets were right with the Thunder down the stretch. In Game 3 the Nuggets had a chance to take control of the game late in the third quarter and during the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Yet, the Nuggets are just one loss away from getting bounced from the playoffs.

For me, history of past stats about teams down 3-0 means nothing. This Nuggets team has no long history and can write their own pages in the books. It starts tonight and the Nuggets have to find a way to win. After experiencing the horrific mass exodus towards the end of Game 3 and some Nuggets fans fighting among themselves as to whether or not people should be leaving, the team might have to provide their own energy tonight. The fans will be on edge and some expecting the Nuggets to lose - like they have done during their past seven post-season trips.

This is the time to prove the doubters wrong and the time to play with pride. Even with the somewhat lopsidedness of Game 2, this Nuggets team never gave up. When this team came together after the All-Star break the thing I liked best was how tough this squad played away from the Pepsi Center and how they always came with effort.

It'll start with effort tonight, but the Nuggets must also do something they haven't done well in this series ... execute. It's easy to say that the Nuggets just need to make their free throws and hit some shots, but how can the team-wide cold streak be snapped? In basketball sometimes your shot just goes away and it also just comes back. Now would be a nice time for the team to get hot together and if the shots are not falling the only thing to do is out-work your opponent by getting to the rim for easier shots, playing tough defense, and protecting the glass.

We've seen this team play unbelievably well before and really there is no reason why they can't do it again. The Nuggets are a different team with Arron Afflalo in the lineup and his presence helped in Game 3 and should again be a factor tonight. Ty Lawson hasn't been the difference maker that he can be in this series and he'll need to play with a different energy tonight. Averaging 12.7 points and just 4 assists, Lawson needs to get it into his head that he can do whatever he wants when he has the ball in his hands. I've seen him shred this OKC team apart when he puts his mind to it and George Karl needs to keep pushing Ty to push it.

Raymond Felton (12-31 shooting), Kenyon Martin (11-28 shooting), Danilo Gallinari (10-25 shooting), J.R. Smith (8-26 shooting), and Wilson Chandler (5-20 shooting) all have been big contributors for this team and need to find a way to get it down offensively for Denver this evening. Their combined coldness has been maddening. We've seen what the playoffs can do to Gallo and Chandler as both have been icy cold. It will start to click for those guys in the post-season at some point and hopefully that time will start to tick now.

Win or lose for these Nuggets tonight - it has been a joy watching them play basketball. The team has worked hard to get to the post-season and to come together so quickly. The Nuggets are capable of getting it done, but they must play this game their way.

If Denver can take over the style of this series then it may be uttered in their team huddle that they have this Thunder team right where they want them ...

Views you can use:

  • In Game 1 the Nuggets combined for 23 assists, Game 2 just 12 assists, and in Game 3 just 18 assists. When I say the Nuggets need to impose their style it starts with assists ... if Denver finishes with 25+ they will be going back to OKC for Game 5.
  • After combining for 10 offensive boards in Games 1 and 2, the Nuggets went for 10 offensive boards in Game 3 alone ... they'll need more of that kind of effort.
  • Nene is 21-36 from the foul line in this series ... just 58.3% for the career 67.8% shooter from the charity stripe. I feel horrible for Nene as his foul shooting has betrayed him late in the season and continued to plague him in the post-season. Nene is the inside presence for this Nuggets team and he has to continue to work inside and will get to the line ... we can only hope his shot will fall.

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Poll

Who will win Game 4 tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Nuggets
    (98 votes)
  • 36%
    Thunder
    (57 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now