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It Might Sound Crazy, But The Denver Nuggets NBA Title Defense May All Come Down To Tonight's Game 2

AAron Ontiveroz. Getty Images.

Sorry for the "hot take" headline, but this is serious business tonight in the Mile High city. While it may seem like I'm being a prisoner of the moment and there's no possible way the Nuggets title defense could be in jeopardy just 2 games into a playoff series, allow me to explain.

The first place we should always look in moments like this is NBA history. Teams that start a playoff series 2-0 are 421-33 all time, which is good for a 92.7% win rate. In the second round, that record is 108-7, which is good for a 93.9% win rate. 

So right off the bat, it doesn't take a math major to understand what an uphill battle the Nuggets would have should they drop their Game 2 tonight. When only 7 teams in NBA history have ever come back from down 0-2 in the second round, that's not overly encouraging.

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But that's just the first part of the story.

When the road team wins both games to start a series, they are 22-4 since 1984 when the NBA moved to the 2-2-1-1-1 format. When the home team wins Game 2, they are 56-38 all time. Pretty big difference if you ask me.

You also have to consider the body of work the Wolves have shown everyone since October. They've been one of the most consistent teams in the entire NBA all year, losing 2 games in a row just 4 times all year. They are 1 of 2 teams in the NBA that never lost 3 games in a row (BOS), and they've started their postseason run with a pretty solid 5-0 record. Barring some sort of injury, I think it's a little unrealistic to think the Wolves are suddenly going to be a very different team than the one they've been all year and start dropping consecutive games.

That's another reason why Game 2 is so crucial for the Nuggets. Say they drop it and fall down 0-2, not only is Game 3 essentially for their season as no team in NBA history has come back from being down 0-3, but even a split in MIN is going to require the Wolves to do something they haven't done all year. At 3-1, for the Nuggets to win that series it would mean the Wolves would have to lose 3 games in a row to drop the series. I'd consider that highly unlikely.

Just lay it all out. When your two options after potentially losing a Game 2 are to either: 

1. Fall behind 3-0 and have your season be over

2. Fall behind 3-1 and need something that hasn't happened all season to take place in order for you to win the series

it's pretty obvious as to why tonight is so important. So yeah, while the headline of this blog may have the feel of a "hot take", it's actually just the reality of the situation for the defending champs. 

Is it possible that they win tonight and then take that momentum into MIN and win Game 3, regaining control of the series? Absolutely! In fact, if that's what you truly believe will happen, you have plenty of reasons as to why. That wouldn't be crazy at all, and as someone who wants this series to go 7 games, perhaps that's what we should all be rooting for. 

But none of that matters if the Nuggets don't protect their homecourt and win Game 2. That's why their title defense may depend on what happens tonight, which is pretty fucking massive for only the second game of a 2nd round series. 

What I'm interested in seeing is how the Nuggets look now that they are actually facing some real playoff adversity for the first time in two seasons. They've been in control of every series they've played since the start of last year's playoffs, but now the shoe is on the other foot. Now they are essentially on the verge of being on the ropes, so let's see how they respond. 

On the Wolves' side, while there's a case to be made it doesn't truly matter since Game 2 is somewhat "house money" given what they did in Game 2, we also get to see if they are ready to deliver that death blow and really put the Nuggets on life support. It's hard as shit to win in DEN, and to do it twice to open this series would be BIG TIME stuff for a team that is backing up their regular season body of work as a true NBA title contender.  

All I know is it's going to be must watch either way, especially when you realize that the NBA title might be at stake.