A few more thoughts before we tip off game one of the Nuggets/Thunder battle royal.
Hopefully discretion is the better part of valor. Arron Afflalo has chosen to sit out game one in an attempt to avoid another setback with his hamstring injury. I wrote somewhere, either in my comprehensive preview or in the preview chat (and if I did not write it in either of those, I certainly thought about writing it) Afflao would be wise to sit out game one which would give him nine days of rest between his last appearance on April 11 against the Warriors and game two on Wednesday.
While I think his decision is a wise one, I sure wish Denver had him for game one. I believe Denver needs to win game one simply to build confidence. If they lose tonight, they will have lost three straight against the Thunder and while they may be able convince themselves they can still win, every time OKC gets a lead or makes a run during any game over the rest of the series the Nuggets will have a lot of doubt in their minds. Obviously losing game one is something that can be overcome, but it will provide a new mental hurdle for Denver to topple.
I have also heard a great deal about how the Thunder have never even won a road playoff game and they have no reason to be confident. A position Mark Kiszla laid out very well in the Denver Post:
For all the noise about the Thunder, this team hasn’t accomplished anything yet in this league.
You can try to take comfort in that line of thinking all you want, but the Thunder is a very dangerous team. If the Nuggets win this series it will not be because the Thunder have not accomplished anything yet. If you look around the NBA the only teams who have accomplished anything with their current core group are the Lakers, Spurs, Mavs and Celtics and all of those teams are certainly beatable, although the Lakers are the favorites in my mind to win the west.
I realize the Nuggets have taken umbrage with the Thunder’s attitude and the way they handle themselves on the court. If Denver does not like it, they have the chance to shut them up starting tonight.
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