In the grand scheme of the NBA’s best-of-seven game playoffs, winning Game 1 is slightly overrated, while Game 2 is the most important game and can change any series.
Just look at the Denver Nuggets for example, since 2003 the Nuggets have played in nine playoff series and over that duration they have won Game 1 five times. Their record in those five series is a mediocre 2-3. They have only won Game 2 twice (both in 2009), and won both series.
It’s not that you don’t want to win Game 1, it is that the NBA playoffs are long and the more better and more experienced team usually wins the series – not the team that attacks first. The three lower seeds that won opening round games over the weekend all had coaches that are playing in their first playoff series (Monty Williams, New Orleans; Lionel Hollins, Memphis and Larry Drew, Atlanta).
They all did a fabulous job coaching in Game 1, but we all saw how the Magic responded Tuesday to even the series. Are Hollins and Williams ready to answer the changes that veteran coaches like Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson are going instill? Does anybody expect Chris Paul to go for 33 points and 14 assists again, especially since it showed how important he is to the Hornets?
That’s why Game 2 is so important. Any team has a chance to take control of the series and the momentum. Both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat did just that. The Mavericks quieted the doubters by taking care of business against a tough Portland Blazers team by going up 2-0 and now they have complete control over the series while the Blazers are in disarray. The Heat, who had to hold off Philadelphia in Game 1, blew out the 76ers in Game 2 and crushed any momentum Philadelphia had.
The Nuggets could be in that position if they lose tonight in Oklahoma City. Especially considering they have all the motivation and momentum to win Game 2. They beat themselves in Game 1 (with some help from the officials) and if Denver can’t take advantage of the momentum the Thunder take complete control of the series. But a Nuggets win tonight and Oklahoma City will be the ones scrambling for answers quickly – especially considering the series comes to the energized Pepsi Center where the Nuggets hold an intimidating 33-8 record.
Tags: Atlanta Atlanta Hawks Chris Paul Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets Gregg Popovich Larry Drew Lionel Hollins Memphis Grizzlies Miami Heat Monty Williams NBA Playoffs New Orleans Hornets Oklahoma City Thunder Orlando Magic Phil Jackson Philadelphia 76ers Portland Trailblazers