DENVER — I don’t care who wins this Thunder-Nuggets series. I really don’t. Sports writers discover early on in their career that becoming a fan of a team is a no-no. It zaps your objectivity. It drains your sanity.
Still, I’d just as soon the Thunder is finished with these guys as quickly as possible. The Nuggets’ whining is wearing me slick. Even though Denver delayed the inevitable with a 104-101 victory Monday night, it’s only a matter of time before Oklahoma City closes out this series. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit, and the Nuggets aren’t going to become the first. But if the Thunder would just go ahead and take care of them Wednesday night, it’d be all right by me. What about you, Thunder fans? The excuses that have been coming from the boys in baby blue have been as plentiful as crisp spring days in the Mile High City. They started in the opening game of the series, and they haven’t stopped since. The Nuggets’ excuses are like Fran Drescher’s voice in “The Nanny.” Annoying. I mean, the Nuggets had an extremely valid point about the missed goaltending call in Game 1, but that blown call happened with more than a minute left in the game. What's more, it only put the Thunder up one point. The Nuggets had four more possessions in that game. Four. They still had a great chance of winning the game, but instead of them talking about the dozen free throws they missed or the 4-of-16 performance they had from behind the 3-point line, it was all about that blown call. In the postgame, George Karl was more woe-is-me than Nancy Kerrigan post knee bash. After a beat down in Game 2, the Nuggets proclaimed that a return to Denver would cure all ills. The energy would be high, and the altitude would be extreme, and the Easter weekend would be a good one. Add in the return of Arron Afflalo, and the Nuggets sounded a defiant tone. But the atmosphere at the Pepsi Center was only so-so, the altitude was barely a factor for the Thunder's young bodies, and Arron Afflalo was still Arron Afflalo. The way he was being talked about before Game 3, you'd have thought he was Dwyane Wade. (Of course, there’s also been wailing and gnashing of teeth about Timofey Mozgov being hurt and unavailable. Um, the Denver big man is averaging a whopping 3.6 points and 2.7 rebounds this season.) After Afflalo proved to be less than a difference-maker on Saturday, at least one sports talk host in Denver mentioned that he was coming off an injured hamstring, for goodness sake. Maybe the Nuggets’ excuse making is rubbing off. The Thunder has had more fingers pointed at it than a troupe of clowns on an elementary school playground.
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