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Nuggets aiming to be sixth team to come back to win a playoff series where they lost the first 2 games on their home court

Denver Nuggets have a series on their hands, Avalanche struggling in second round
Denver Nuggets have a series on their hands, Avalanche struggling in second round 04:42

There have only been five teams in the history of the NBA that have done what the Nuggets are trying to do right now in the Western Conference Semifinals: win a 7-game playoff series where they lost the first two games on their home court. All five of those teams who did it won games 3 and 4 on the road. After winning Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota, Denver's coach said Sunday night he believes in his team and hopes they have what it takes to be the sixth.

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone prepares his team before the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday, May 12, 2024. AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

"What I found is Rudy T is right, man. 'Never underestimate the heart of a champion,'" said Michael Malone, referring to a quote by legendary NBA coach Rudy Tomjanovich Jr.

The only teams that have come back under the same circumstances the Nuggets faced a week ago -- when they were down 0-2 following losses at home in the first two games – were the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969, the Houston Rockets in 1994, the Dallas Mavericks in 2005, the Boston Celtics in 2017 and the Los Angeles Clippers in 2021, per Fadeaway World. Tomjanovich was the coach of that '94 Rockets team. After Houston recovered from their early stumble against the Phoenix Suns they went on to win the NBA championship that season.

That's what Malone is aiming to do with his Nuggets squad, a group many NBA commentators declared were dead in the water last week.

"They were quick to write us off, but these guys won a championship a year ago," he said. "We went into Miami and won two games in a row. This team has been tested time and time again and we've found a way to solve whatever's been thrown at us."

The Nuggets will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night in Game 5 at Ball Arena at 8:30 p.m. Game 6 will be on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time. If necessary, Game 7 will be on Sunday.

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