By Friday afternoon, players and coaches from both the Thunder and Nuggets were well-aware that teams with a 2-0 lead in a playoff series have won 94 percent of the time, but no one dared put any stock into it.
The Nuggets couldn't in order to remain confident. The Thunder couldn't in order to avoid getting too comfortable entering Game 3 on Saturday night.
“It means absolutely nothing because that's history,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That's not our team. That's not our series. The most important thing is just focusing on the next game. I know it's out there, but it has no bearing on what we feel and how we think and how it will impact this series.”
Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said media members overreact to such statistics. “Of course, because y'all are caught up in numbers and history and the way series have gone in the past,” Martin said. “That's all y'all guys do. Y'all love numbers. We play basketball. All we got to do is go out and get Game 3. That's all we're concerned about.”
Denver guard Arron Afflalo returns to the lineup for Game 3 after missing the first two playoff games with a strained hamstring.
Afflalo is expected to defend Russell Westbrook, possibly Kevin Durant, or both.
However, Brooks said his team will not try to exploit an injured player.
“You just go at it hard,” Brooks said. “It's kind of like when they put a small guy on one of your bigger players. Some coaches attack the matchups.”
As a former 5-foot-11 point guard in the NBA, Brooks knows from which he speaks.
“Teams used to do that to me all the time,” Brooks said. “Some coaches would say, ‘Oh, we've got to take Brooks out.' But half the coaches would say, ‘No, we like that because now they've changed their way of playing. The best player is not getting the touches.' It's the player who doesn't score a lot now has to score a lot.”
If the 6-foot-5 Afflalo defends Westbrook, it would leave 5-foot-11 Ty Lawson or 6-foot-1 Raymond Felton to guard 6-foot-7 Thabo Sefolosha.