In this week's Sports Illustrated poll, 166 NBA players were asked, “Who do you want shooting with the game on the line?”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant led the way with 74 percent, followed by the Thunder's Kevin Durant (8 percent), Miami guard Dwyane Wade (3 percent) and then Boston guard Ray Allen and Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki with 2 percent each.
SI also posed the question to its Facebook fans and the top vote-getters were Bryant (41 percent), Chicago point guard Derrick Rose (23 percent) and Durant (9 percent).
One hour before Game 1 tipped off, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl tried to explain the importance of having playoff experience.
“It's not about having played in the playoffs, it's about knowing how to win in the playoffs,” Karl said.
What do players have trouble understanding?
“How hard it is to win the second game, and how it multiplies,” Karl said. “I don't know how to tell you. The first win is a lot easier than the third and fourth win — a lot easier. And if you think it's going to get easier, it never gets easier. It always gets harder.”
While Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 72 points for the Thunder in Game 1, eight Nuggets scored eight or more points.
“I've got a feeling when, and if, we win four games, it's going to be by committee,” Karl said. “One guy might get two games. Someone else might get Game 3. Game 4 is probably going to be someone else.”
Much has been written about the Nuggets losing their go-guy with the trade of Carmelo Anthony to New York. Karl insists he would rather have several go-to options rather than just one.