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“Here’s somethin’, here’s somethin’, you’re never gonna f-f-forget, baby… you know, you know, you know… you just ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
– Bachman-Turner Overdrive
When the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets literally limped into the postseason with the best record in their NBA history, there was still a ton of hope for the West’s third seed, also one of the teams best placements in their playoff history. When they ended up coughing up their first round series in six games, it became one of the lightning rod moments in NuggLife lore. A team that played their hearts out, earned the West’s third seed, and earned their higher-ups Coach of the Year and Exec of the Year ended up just another flameout for the team and Nuggets fans everywhere.
For the Golden State Warriors fans who saw that series through an entirely different lens, that spark might not have brought them that year’s title, but it was the inception of baby Steph, Klay, and Draymond that eventually turned into a dynasty on par with basketball’s greats. At the time, who knew that Denver had played an about-to-be-fully-realized juggernaut? Denver was too busy licking its wounds from another disappointment. Even leaving the series, it was wildly clear the Dubs were onto something, even if we hadn’t seen that something yet.
Even Andre Iguodala thought so.
In the first two games of their playoff series against a flawed Minnesota Timberwolves squad, this season’s Denver Nuggets have often looked similar to that Warriors squad of a decade ago, a bit like a jet engine that is often catching fire, occasionally sputtering out. To wit…
- Their defense has been solid-to-stellar for seven of the eight quarters they’ve played.
- Their offense has, most usually, been the electrifying whirligig that terrorized the league all season.
- Nikola Jokic has still been a rock for the team in a moment he’s trying to find his shot through a wrist injury.
- Jamal Murray has put up 64 points in two games, including a 40-piece that led all Nuggets scorers in Game 2, and has still shown and said he only wants to improve on what’s he’s already done, including ironing out wrinkles he still sees.
- Michael Porter, Jr. pulled Denver’s feet from the fire in the fourth quarter of Game 2, probably rescuing the outcome in the process. Even more heartening as he was MIA through much of the first half.
- Aaron Gordon has well-neutralized the Timberwolves he’s been assigned, even while swimming in foul trouble throughout.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looks regenerated and rejuvenated, and is still cursing himself for a few of the picks he ran under.
- While coughing up a 21-point lead in Game 2, they still came away with an almost-comfortable win.
- After thrashing Minny by nearly 30 in Game 1, Michael Malone added seasoning into much of his postgame conversation with words about the space the team still had for improvement. The players echoed those sentiments.
- The oft-maligned bench has even played a couple of light-out contests in buoying up the boys.
Have the Nuggets comfortably outmatched the Timberwolves in the first two contests? Yes. Have they played games they will need to vastly improve upon to notch 14 more wins before all is said and done? Hell. Yes. Joyfully, frustratingly, enticingly, yes. In this case, both things can be true.
But Joker needs to find where his touch and that sore wrist meet. Mike needs to not have a single shot in a half. Even Jamal knows he needs to find another level. Said as much when he said Bubble Murray was supposed to be only the beginning. Every player and coach sees that there is still a lot of room for improvement, even in trying to put away a talented, never-quitting, pesky eighth seed. While the Denver Nuggets have gotten off to a primarily-hot start in this year’s playoffs, they have also shown us the promise of just how good this about-to-be-fully-realized juggernaut can be. If they can be.
If they can… Here’s something you’re never gonna forget. With these Denver Nuggets… You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.