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Denver will get a lot tougher when — or if — Afflalo plays

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: April 18, 2011
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When, or if, Arron Afflalo returns to the court, Oklahoma City Thunder defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha will be waiting for him.

That alone should tell you the quality of player the Denver Nuggets are missing in their opening-round playoff series against the Thunder.


Sefolosha routinely draws the opponent's toughest perimeter assignment. Though Denver has a well-balanced attack with eight players averaging in double-digits since a Feb. 22 trade with the New York Knicks, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Afflalo is who would be in Sefolosha's sights.

Afflalo missed Game 1 on Sunday night while nursing a hamstring strain.

When asked what percent chance he would play in Wednesday's Game 2, he said: “Zero. It hasn’t even been 10 days yet (of rest). I’ve made a mistake three times (by coming back). It’s not even being cautious, it’s just not healed. I’ve tried to come back in the regular season. I’m trying to get past that marker.”

It remains unknown when he will return, if at all. Wilson Chandler started in place of Afflalo in the opening 107-103 loss inside Oklahoma City Arena.

"It is frustrating because I want to get out and help my team, but they'll be fine," Afflalo said an hour before Sunday's tipoff. "I can perhaps run around and shoot, but can I play a competitive playoff game, be effective for my team for the type of minutes I play and not re- aggravate (the injury)? That's a different story."

Afflalo has aggravated the injury twice since initially getting hurt March 5 at the Los Angeles Clippers.

He was wearing a white T-shirt and team shorts at the Nuggets' light practice Monday afternoon. Afflalo did some stand-still shooting and at one point made 17 straight 3-pointers.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks calls Afflalo "one of the best players on a team of good players. He seems like he brings some stability, some solid play defensively and he makes big shots. Every 3 he's made this year from the corner has been assisted. He spots up and when you deliver the ball, he makes shots for them. He's another good player for them."

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