No doubt about that. We've seen the intensity rising these past couple weeks, but Sunday night was off the charts.
Nene stared down Kendrick Perkins after an early dunk, then Perkins looked like he might break one of the referees in half after he took a Nene elbow but got no whistle.
Kenyon Martin bearhugged Durant in an effort to keep him from getting around a screen.
Serge Ibaka returned the favor, keeping Martin from getting near the goal on a late free throw.
“We knew this was going to be a tough series,” Brooks said. “Denver's a physical team. They play hard, and they play good basketball.”
But the Thunder plays good ball, too.
No reason to think that will change come Wednesday when these two square off again.
This is going to be a dogfight until the end. When the end might come is anyone's guess.
Nuggets coach George Karl thinks it's going to be a long series.
“I told the team it's just the beginning, the beginning of the process,” he said. “They get the win, but I think we get to see that we did some things pretty well. It's how we build on that and learn from that.”
Learn over seven games, he said.
“At least I hope seven times,” he said.
Man, wouldn't that be fun? A seven-game series between these two teams.
Sign me up.
Listen, last year's playoffs were grand fun. But as much as everyone loved the Lakers series, it was never going to produce a rivalry.
This series just might.
It's already off to one heck of a start. Bring on Game 2.