The Denver Nuggets couldn’t have asked for a better Game 1, especially considering the circumstances:
- The Nuggets best perimeter defender Arron Afflalo missed another game due to the hamstring woes
- Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 72 points
- As a whole the Nuggets missed 12 free throws
- The officials missed a crucial call late in the fourth quarter
And despite all of that, the Nuggets only lost 107-103 to the Oklahoma City Thunder and being a road team in the opening game of the NBA’s best-of-seven playoff series that is almost as good as a win. The Thunder now have the pressure of repeating their performance and the Nuggets have the advantage of going into Game 2 knowing they should have won the contest. However, the Nuggets don’t just need to hit their free throws in the next game. They also need to improve in some areas before Wednesday’s Game 2:
- They need to find a way to contain Westbrook, whether it is trapping the former UCLA guard or hoping that Afflalo will be healthy enough to defend his former teammate
- Once again Denver needs more production from its bench. Felton struggled shooting the ball (4 of 11 from field and missed all four of treys), but he was probably the best bench performer. JR Smith once again struggled, making questionable decisions and getting burned by Eric Maynor and James Harden .
- Ty Lawson needs to be more aggressive and Nene, who had a great game (22 points, eight rebounds) needs to remain aggressive. Lawson was OK, but not spectacular and no doubt the Thunder were trying to slow Lawson and the Nuggets pick and roll. Now Lawson needs to counter the Thunder first strike and find an answer to their defense.
The Thunder struck first and now it is time for the Nuggets turn to respond and they have all the cards in their favor for a Game 2 victory.