Nuggets-Mavs: Irrationally Optimistic Game 2 Preview

Certain that my prediction of Thuggets in 5 is spot on, my head is bursting with pride.

But desperately wanting my Mavericks to pull the upset, my heart is breaking with pain.

Before tonight's pivotal Game 2 at Denver's Pepsi Center, let's allow the ticker to momentarily win the tug-o'-war over the thinker. It takes a gigantic swig of blue Kool-Aid and some Cuban-colored bifocals, but there are reasons to be confident optimistic hopeful.


*The Mavericks haven't lost back-to-back games in five weeks, since losing to the Nuggets and Cavs back on March 27-29.

*Like its epigdemic cousin, the Whine Flu is mild, fleeting and generally overrated. Surely the Mavs won't waste another game more concerned with blown whistles than made baskets.

*Since he called Game 1, chances are excellent that Dan Crawford won't be officiating tonight. The Mavs are 1-15 in their last 16 playoff games reffed by Crawford. Coincidence?

*Jason Kidd, who committed eight turnovers including a double-dribble in the open court to botch a 4-on-1 break, can't be that bad again. Nene, Denver's center, had more Game 1 assists than Dallas' Hall of Fame point guard.

*The Nuggets have won 17 of 18 of home, including 16 by 10+ points. So, like, maybe they're due for a clunker.

*The Game 1 autopsy featured 11 Nuggets' blocks, 15 steals and 20 Mavs' turnovers. No way that happens again. I don't think.

*After Game 2 in San Antonio Erick Dampier promised to flatten Tony Parker. No such proclamations after Game 1, but somebody's gonna (legally) lay out a Nugget, right? Says Rick Carlisle: "We lost Game 1 because we turned it over too much and we were too soft with our physical disposition." Me calling the Mavs "soft" is one thing, but their own coach? If that's not motivation, we should give up on these Mavsmallows.

*With Kenyon Martin fined for his forearm shiver to Dirk Nowitzki, the (illegal) thuggery should be diminished tonight. The more the game resembles basketball rather than MMA, the better for Dallas.

*Even Nuggets coach George Karl expects the Mavs to play better: "Gentlemen, (tonight) will be the hardest Dallas will play unless there is a Game 7."

*Sure Josh Howard's sprained right ankle will limit his slashing drives to the hoop, but - given that his left is already slated for off-season surgery - maybe it will give him better equilibrium on his long jumpers.

*The Mavs' bench was one of the best in the NBA this season. Jason Terry was a minus-17 in Game 1 and Brandon Bass has twice as many fouls as points. Call it an aberration.

*Speaking of the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, Terry has yet to score 20 points in a playoff game, much less 30. It's going to hapen sooner or later.

*When villians named J.R. mess with Dallas, they eventually get shot.

*Teams taking Game 1 win the series 79 percent of the time. Translation: There's a 21-percent chance we're about to witness something truly rare and spectacular.

*The Rockets beat the Lakers in L.A. last night and a 50-1 horse won the Kentucky Derby. So, ya know, on any given Tuesday.

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