Should the Denver Nuggets lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday they will be eliminated from the 2011 NBA Playoffs and end one of the most talked about seasons in franchise history. Down 3-0, the Nuggets need some home cooking in order to keep their season alive and head back to OKC for Game 5.
But if they continue to play like they have in the first three games of the series - sloppy and out of control - then a season in which the Nuggets stole the NBA headlines with the blockbuster trade that brought Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov from New York in exchange essentially for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups will be finished and Denver can return to their well earned place as an NBA afterthought.
The interesting point about that trade, from a playoff perspective, is that after the New York Knicks were swept out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics last night, neither team involved in the most publicized mid-season trade in years has won a game in these playoffs. Both sides were said to have improved, with the Knicks getting a superstar and veteran point guard, while Denver became one of the deepest teams in the league, but what this has shown everyone is that you can't piecemeal an NBA franchise together in February and expect results in April. Instead, what all teams need is to gel in training camp and build camaraderie throughout a season before trying to win in the playoffs.
And the Thunder are proving that. They have the talent, in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and by teaming up for three seasons, they know each other's games inside and out and can rely on the other to help out in a pinch and know where they'll be on the floor at all times.
This will come to the Nuggets, but unfortunately it doesn't appear to be this year. And not to sound too much like a Cubs fan, but with more time playing together, next year should be better than this one.
Monday's game tips at 8:30 p.m. MDT and can be seen live at the Pepsi Center or on TNT.