Denver Nuggets fans knew taking down the high-flying Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA playoffs would be a tall order. And last night we got a glimpse of just how difficult winning will be, after the Thunder downed the Nuggets 107-103 in the first game of their best-of-seven series. “We’re upset right now, but we’ll figure it out,” says Denver guard Raymond Felton (Denver Post). The Nuggets were charging late but seemed to be thrown off their game when the Thunder got away with a blatant offensive goaltending call. “I was in shock,” says coach George Karl (Yahoo! Sports). “Because of it, I don’t think we executed very well in the last minute of the game. It kind of froze us.”
The Nuggets are right to take issue—and they’ve let the league know they’re peeved—but the call is no excuse. Denver was an abysmal 21-33 from the free throw line, a major factor in a game lost by just four points (NBA.com box score). It will also be hard to win if they continue to let the Thunder’s two stars combine for more than 70 points. The Nuggets have until Wednesday night to figure out a new defensive scheme—and perhaps practice some free throws.