It'd be a real shame if that brutal Game 1 loss killed the Denver Nuggets' spirit. The Nuggets hardly fought in Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder; the Thunder raced out to an early lead and never looked back, eventually winning by 17. Kevin Durant scored 23, and the Nuggets shot just 39 percent. Oklahoma City made a real statement in the win, with that statement being, "We are better than you."
If that's true, we'll find out in Game 3, back in Denver, site of the best home court advantage in basketball. The Nuggets should have lots of fight left in them; Denver is a really solid team on both ends of the court, and 0-2 is hardly a death sentence, even against a team with stars the caliber of Durant and Russell Westbrook. If Danilo Gallinari, Nene and Ty Lawson get loose, this could become a series. But there has to be extraordinary effort, something just not visible from Denver's end in Game 2.
There also needs to be good corralling defense on Durant, something not visible all series. KD is, of course, the best scorer in the league, and he has two straight scoring titles to prove it. But even by those standards Denver has done a poor job marking him, with Durant shooting 7-15 in Game 2, hitting threes, lay-ups and free throws to rack up those 23 points. Limiting Durant to the perimeter is much easier said than done, and KD has shown greater proficiency from long-range. But the Nuggets have to force the other Thunder players -- even Westbrook, a dynamo himself -- to beat them. No more Durant explosions.
Offense is as big an issue; Denver has thrived on ball movement and quick decision-making since trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. The Nuggets had 12 assists on 27 makes in Game 2, an indicator of a lot of shots off the dribble instead of the pass. Oklahoma City doesn't have a great defense (though it's looked better than it did much of the regular season), and the Nuggets can score on the Thunder, as they did in Game 1. Perhaps the Rocky Mountain Air will get their spirits back in line.