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Karl says Nuggets would rather face Mavericks than Thunder in first round

Apr 7, 2011, 8:57 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Coaches and players almost never stray from the “I don’t care who we face in the playoffs, it’s about us doing our thing” mantra. Which is a load of fertilizer, by the way — they all know the playoffs are about matchups and they want to get the more favorable ones. They just won’t talk about it publically.

But George Karl of the Nuggets did, as transcribed on ESPN Dallas.

“If we had to pick and choose on it, we would probably say 55 percent Dallas, 45 percent Oklahoma City, only because Oklahoma City is athletic like we are and they have two great players,” Denver coach George Karl told ESPN 103.3’s Galloway and Company, referring to Thunder forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell.

“They have two All-Stars who are really in their prime and have never won on the playoff stage. I just think right now our speed might have more effect against Dallas than it will against Oklahoma City.”

The Thunder and Nuggets play for the second time in four games Friday, with Oklahoma City getting a 101-94 win Tuesday. Denver had nobody who could slow Kevin Durant and then the Thunder went on a 16-0 fourth quarter run that the Nuggets could not match. The game gave you the feeling OKC could replicate that win four times in a series.

So you can see why Karl would prefer Dallas. Also, Karl is speaking to a general perception around the league — teams fear Oklahoma City’s potential and high end more than they do Dallas. The Mavs are a veteran team and you know what you are going to get with them. The Thunder are more athletic, they run the floor like gazelles, they have Durant and Russell Westbrook, either of which can just take over a game.

OKC may not live up to that potential this season. But with Kendrick Perkins (and Nazr Mohammed) the Thunder addressed one weakness. They seem to be getting better.

The Nuggets scare teams, too, but the way the Thunder dispatched the Nuggets the other night made it seem like that is a series OKC would win. So Karl wisely wants to take his chances elsewhere.

  1. davidly - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:15 AM

    Let’s face it: Dallas is gettin’ bounced in the first round regardless. Of certain interest is that both division winners are facing a perspective long, tough series in the second round.

    Of course Karl wants to be the first one who gets to run the Mavs off the court. The question is: Will he lose tonight to help that happen?

  2. loungefly74 - Apr 8, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    Thunder are scary. i hope they end up in the 4th seed…hoping the Nugs wear them out and then have a brutal battle against the spurs in the 2nd round…oh, by the way, i’m a Laker fan…:)

  3. rushbacker - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    The Nuggets scare teams, too, but the way the Thunder dispatched the Nuggets the other night made it seem like that is a series OKC would win.

    Might wanna slow that roll a bit until we see the re-match tonight. Credit the Thunder for coming into Denver and getting the victory, but don’t project one game to a series win. Denver-OKC not going six or seven games would be a big surprise– it’s going to be a very closely contested series either way.

  4. davidly - Apr 9, 2011 at 3:49 AM

    Well the Nugs didn’t put up much of a fight after the first quarter last night. Now, if the Lakers don’t beat the Thunder on Sunday, it’ll go a long way to ensuring their having to play them in the second round.

    But what’d really be funny, is if Denver fell to sixth place and ended up going to Ok City anyway.

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