March 21, 2013
I'm dubious about regular season games making postseason statements; there is too much evidence just from the last few years that the results of regular season games are poor predictors of a playoff series.
This win doesn't mean the Nuggets will beat the Thunder in a playoff series. It means that they truly believe they can - and that is a very powerful thing.
A night after an emotional overtime win on the road, Denver went into the home of the reigning Western Conference champions and soundly beat the Thunder, 114-104. That would be Denver's 13th straight win and they have taken three of four from the Thunder this season.
It was Denver's most impressive win of the season. It was a night the Oklahoma City defense didn't look good - they played at the Nuggets pace (104 possessions) which meant they allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions (on the season they allow 99.7 overall and 98.5 at home).
That pace meant the first half of this game was about as entertaining as it gets, a 1980s-feel game that was 66-65 at the break. As tends to happen at pace, it was a point guard's game - Russell Westbrook had 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting; Ty Lawson scored 15 first half points on just 7 shots (he would finish with 25). The Thunder were able to get out to a double digit lead at one point, but playing fast let the Nuggets get points inside (44 in the paint in the first half) close that gap quickly and by halftime it was tight.
Then the Thunder came out in the third quarter ice cold - they started 4-of-18 shooting, 0-of-5 from three. With that the Nuggets raced out on a 15-4 run to start the second half. Denver's lead got all the way up to 13 at points.
You kept waiting for the Oklahoma City run to answer, and Kevin Durant had 12 of his 34 in the fourth quarter.
But every time it started, it seemed like Andre Miller was there to shut it down. It was Miller's birthday, and without looking it up I think he turned 64. Didn't matter. The old man was making plays, hitting 4-of-7 in the quarter and getting to the line. Kenneth Faried shouldn't be overlooked on the night, with his 13 points and 15 rebounds.
It was also Miller making the speech to the team in the locker room at halftime saying the Nuggets needed to step up and make a statement.
And the Western Conference playoffs are going to be fun.