NUGGETS

The West’s biggest bully just bumped the favorite from the playoffs

May 11, 2023, 10:45 PM | Updated: 10:53 pm

The Denver Nuggets ended their series with the Phoenix Suns by halftime. It was an awesome display

At the half:

*The Nuggets had the most points ever through 24 minutes of a road playoff game

*The Nuggets led by 30 points 81-51.

*The Nuggets played so well the Suns were booed off the court by their own crowd.

*The Nuggets first went up 30 in the game thanks to a tip in…by Kevin Durant!

During a second-half timeout, Nuggets coach Michael Malone in his hoarse voice screamed “End it tonight!” However, everybody knew it was already over.

Nobody is more paranoid by his own shadow than an NBA coach with a lead in the 30s. And the Nuggets are used to Malone’s rants taking them with a large grain of salt. The truth was this game didn’t need any motivational moments. This Nuggets team couldn’t be more focused on their ultimate destiny.

Dropping two games after winning the first two felt alarming. In the end, three of the four Nuggets wins in the Suns series were absolute blowouts that had Monty Williams waving the white flag in the fourth quarter. The reality was this series wasn’t all that competitive.

It was cute that Cam Payne caught fire going for 31 points. His contribution would’ve been meaningful had Durant and Devin Booker did what they have always needed to do. But, the drag and stress of carrying the Suns proved to be too much as they combined for a paltry 35 points in the game.

It’s another off-season for the Suns to wonder where they went wrong. It’s the second year in a row the Suns were blown out at home in the conference semis in an elimination game. Are they taking solace they didn’t lose by 33 like they did to the Mavericks? Not sure. They only lost by 25 this time. So hey that’s improvement.

Don’t care.

The Suns will be a distant footnote to the Nuggets story of 2023. While the rivalry will last for years, this season will be defined by how the Nuggets fare against the Warriors or Lakers and likely whatever Eastern Conference team survives to get buried by the best Denver team of all time.

The Suns were supposed to be the sternest test. Perhaps that actually may be true. It seems unworldly that any team left in the playoffs will be able to solve the mystery of this year’s Nuggets.

Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon were slightly off and it didn’t matter. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up. In Game 5, Cowboy Bruce Brown rope-tied the Suns. Jamal Murray went 0 for 9 from three in a win during this series. It simply didn’t matter. Somebody always steps up.

ALWAYS!

The loss of Deandre Ayton opened the court larger than the Grand Canyon for Nikola Jokic. He was brilliant yet again. There was an early debate about which player was having a better playoff run Booker or Jokic. That discussion seems silly now.

The non-coronation of Jokic as the MV3 seems dumber as each playoff game goes by. Durant sat sullenly on his bench with seven minutes remaining towel draped over his sweat-beaded head. He was joined by Booker shortly thereafter. Monty Williams had yet again for the final time surrendered. But, Jokic remained on the court. Malone wanted to make a statement to the world that it would be the Nuggets that would dictate the game, not their opponent. If you want to give up, we’ll be fine. We will bury you how we choose fit and we’ll score a triple-double for the road.

Like Walter White excoriating his wife when confronted by fear. The Nuggets are the danger. The Nuggets are the one who knocks.

The 25-point road win on Thursday was the biggest by any team this postseason. Stand back the door has been kicked down and the biggest bully in the West stands menacingly ready to destroy.

***

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