Thursday, April 23, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Catching Up

I'd promised the Administrator that I'd blog the NBA playoffs, specifically after Nuggets games. Uh, can I have a do-over?

Well, late or not, the Nugs' series against the suddenly helpless Hornets deserves some copy. Which you will be able to locate south of here, past the cleverly disguided HTML tag.

This series marks the first time since '85 that the Nuggets have won two opening contests in the playoffs, which, not coincidentally, was also their longest postseason run as an NBA franchise. While on the surface a #2 seed like Denver shouldn't have much trouble with a #7 seed like New Charloklaorleanshoma City, prior to Game 1 there were plenty of folks out there wringing their hands with worry. The Hornets, after all, had CP3, the best young point in the game. They came within a hair's breadth of making the Finals last year. David West is an all-star, Byron Scott has a Championship appearance on his coaching resume and Peja Stojakovich is a Balkan war criminal. This, the conventional wisdom seemed to hold, was not your average #7.

And on the flip, the Nuggets are an eternal tease. They won 50 games last year with Iverson and then got washed in the opening round in a series that was painful to watch. Sure, The Chauncey arrived last fall and saved them from what promised to be an absolutely awful campaign, but people remember things like, you know, not winning a playoff series in 15 years. And even though they had a stellar season, the hoops cognoscenti was widely expecting them to stumble early.

Well, smarties, how does a 2-0 start sound? Which each victory coming by double figures? With The Chauncey going absolutely George Washington High School to the tune of a combined 67 points?

All is not perfect, of course. Carmelo couldn't find his shot in Game 1, and while he had a good night yesterday (22 points and 9 assists), his slow start could be reason for concern. J.R. Smith can soak a defender in gasoline and light him on fire one minute and then trip over his laces the next. No one expects New Charloklaorleanshoma City to simply roll over at their place. And even if (when) the Nugs move on, the effin' Lakers lurk in the distance.

But I tell you what it beats: every season they have had since the crazy run to the Conference Finals in 1994. For a team, and a city, that has been party to a whole lot of bad, uninspired basketball for more than a decade, this feels better than Aloe Vera on a nutsack sunburn.