Listen. I want you to know that I endured probably close to 45 seconds of deep internal conflict over whether to form this blog around a groan-inducing forced parallel between the sudden restoration of the Denver Nuggets’ playoff hopes and the Easter story of Christ’s resurrection from death. And the conclusion was hell yes, bitch!!!! The Denver Nuggets... are risen!!!!
How many times, just in the second half of this season, have the Nuggets suffered a loss that seemed like it had to be fatal? Eight? Nine? Just in the past few weeks they have died like five different times. They seemed pretty much dead after losing to the horrible Memphis Grizzles back on March 17. They somehow got even deader two nights after that, when they lost to the Miami Heat in double overtime. When they went into Philadelphia on the 26th, having won two straight road games to maybe possibly make you think they had a pulse, and then lost by 19? Dead! When they blew an eight-point fourth-quarter lead to the Raptors’ friggin’ backups the next night and lost? Extremely fuckin’ dead.
Dead. They were dead. The Toronto loss left them three games out of eighth place with seven games left to play—six against teams fighting for their own playoff positions, and one against the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the hottest teams in the league. They hadn’t looked steady on their feet in more than a month. Their season was all but over.
Until it wasn’t!
That’s Denver’s Jamal Murray, making a goddamn bonkers athletic play to pretty much singlehandedly preserve the Nuggets’ playoff hopes last night against the Bucks: Down three, with four seconds left and the ball in Milwaukee’s possession, he stole the inbound pass, got fouled attempting a three, and made all three free-throws to force overtime. They’d trailed by eight points with less than a minute left to play; in the end, they won by three.
This came two nights after Murray’s fellow guard Will Barton forced overtime against the Oklahoma City Thunder with an equally heroic whirling drive-and-score, and the Nuggets went on to win by one after blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead. Combine these two wins with a spectacularly ill-timed four-game losing streak by the New Orleans Pelicans, two straight losses over the weekend by the faltering Los Angeles Clippers, and continued .500 ball from the exhausted and depleted Minnesota Timberwolves, and suddenly the Nuggets find themselves not just a game out of the eighth, but as the hottest of the four teams bunched around the West’s bottom two playoff spots. They’re right back in this thing! Much like a certain apocalyptic Nazarene preacher was when he walked out of the fuckin’ grave, likewise on Easter!!!!!!!
Of course, yesterday was also April Fool’s Day, and the Nuggets came extremely close to blowing their own seven-point lead with under a minute to play in overtime by repeatedly failing to pass the ball to a decent foul shooter. I am choosing optimism, here.