Nuggets in trouble
Four NHL teams have overcome 3-0 deficits in a best-of-seven playoff series, including the 1942 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs. The Red Sox pulled off MLB’s only such comeback against the New York Yankees in 2004.
The Denver Nuggets are the 143rd NBA team to go down 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series and nobody’s ever overcome such a daunting deficit to win four straight.
The Nuggets say their only aim is to send the series back to Phoenix with a win in Game 4 tonight in Denver.
“The last thing I want to see is the Phoenix Suns pushing a broom across our home court,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Friday night after Denver’s 116-102 loss to the Suns.
Malone has said all along the Nuggets could show growth this season after losing a year ago to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
“We have had a tremendous season, tremendous. I said going into this year you can’t judge a season by the end result . ... But the one thing I don’t want is for us just to go out quietly into that good night,” Malone said. “I hope we show some real fight and resolve and force this series to go back to Phoenix for Game 5.”
If not, Nikola Jokic will become the first MVP to get swept in a playoff series since the league adopted the bestof-seven format for all rounds beginning in 2003.
“We just need to go out there and fight and give everything we’ve got,” Jokic said.
Only three MVPs (Steph Curry in 2015, LeBron James in 2012 and ’13 and Tim Duncan in 2003) have won it all since 2003 when it’s taken 16 playoff victories to raise the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.
Curry came up just short again in 2016 when James led the Cavaliers to a Game 7 win in the NBA Finals. Since then, MVPs are just 31-24 in the playoffs with none of them even reaching the Finals.
That includes two MVPs who exited in the first round: Russell Westbrook in 2017 and Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.
Elsewhere in the NBA... The Brooklyn Nets again won’t have James Harden but could have forward Jeff Green back for Game 4 of their secondround playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks this afternoon.
Nets coach Steve Nash said Saturday that Harden is out and Green is questionable for Sunday’s game. Nash added that both players are “progressing well.”
Harden hasn’t played since leaving Game 1 of the series in the opening minute with tightness in his right hamstring. Green hasn’t played at all in the series due to a plantar fascia strain.
Green last played in Game 2 of the Nets’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics.
The Nets lead the Bucks 2-1 in the best-of-7 matchup.