OK, now it's time to prepare your ears for Game 3 at Oracle Arena on Friday night.
But first, before I wade through all the incredible performances in the Warriors' 131-117 Game 2 victory in Denver, I've got two clear statements to make:
* This was Mark Jackson's finest hour as a coach. Young core, playing rookies, just lost one of their key players, switching up the rotation, a 6th seed on the road against a team that won 57 regular-season games and was 39-3 at home.
And the Warriors won going away, shooting 64.6%, getting large and stormy performances from everybody who played.
You can quibble that it's a low bar to praise a coach for a Game 2 first-round victory, but I'm taking it all into consideration: Jackson's first playoff trip as a coach, the Warriors' recent history of misery, the composition of the roster, the depth and talent-level of the Nuggets.
The Warriors' playoff run essentially could've ended tonight, and it would've been understandable if it ended tonight... and they would've had to re-group and figure out how to get better in the future—and that all still may happen.
But somebody convinced this roster it not only could win but should win tonight, and now the Warriors know they can win an imperative game without David Lee.
More: They can win this series if they continue to play this way. They might not win it, but they know it's possible.
The significance of that, for a perennially losing franchise, cannot be measured, and I'm giving Jackson the big-picture credit for it.
Some people are already telling me I'm over-reacting and I can live with that judgment. I've made my own.
I don't know what else Jackson will do in the rest of his coaching career, but this victory -- plugging in the right play-calls, going at the right Denver weak spots, making the right personnel decisions, keeping his young players confident and loose -- will be very tough to top.
* This was the best, most complete Warriors performance since Game 1 in Dallas, 2007, which singularly tilted the series towards the 8 seed and away from the 1 seed and the series never tilted back.
We'll see if this victory leads to the Warriors taking the series. I think it's basically even-up from here on, but the Warriors had to get this game to have a shot at this series.
Why don't I count one of the Warriors' home wins in the 2007 run? Because I always count road victories as far more consequential than most things done at home. Winning on the road stuns the home team, and sometimes they stay stunned.
* Ohhh kay, the David Lee Issue.
Fact: He was out, the Warriors played well in the fourth quarter in Game 1.
Fact: He was out, the Warriors played incredibly the entirety of Game 2.
I'm not saying the Warriors are better off with Lee out. He's a good player, he does important things, and he's good for the team in a lot of different facets. They will miss him throughout the rest of their playoff run, however long it lasts, and they will miss him up until the moment he returns next season.
However, Lee is NOT an indispensable player and never has been, despite the public relations work and the surface stats and All-Star glory, not even for a Warriors roster that was partly built to suit his skills.
Sorry. He's not.
Especially when the Warriors are matched against a finesse/speed team like Denver. What they mostly need from a power forward against Denver is versatility, athleticism, a variety of offensive moves, and toughness on the glass and near the rim on defense.
Lee is a creative offensive player and a great rebounder, but doesn't provide much of those other things, and he didn't in his healthy minutes of Game 1, either.
So what happened in the fourth quarter in Game 1 and in all of Game 2 with Lee out?
Jackson turned to Harrison Barnes in parts (who only turned in the game of his life with a game-best +17 and several trapeze-act drive-dunks), turned to Carl Landry (some huge baskets), turned to Draymond Green (18 key minutes)... And the Warriors out-rebounded Denver 36-26, duplicating their 10-rebound advantage from Game 1.
Plus, with Barnes or Green at power forweard (and a little bit with Landry), the Warriors can calmly switch every position on defense except center (when Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli is out there), which has stifled Denver's slashing offense.
The biggest power forward void so far? Denver needs Kenneth Faried at full speed. After missing Game 1 with a sore ankle, Faried was a step slow in Game 2. The Warriors repeatedly put Faried in pick-and-roll defense against Stephen Curry, and Curry burned him several times.
Last point: Bogut really does seem to play much better when Lee isn't out there with him. Bogut was great in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and, despite foul trouble in Game 2, he grabbed eight rebounds and just looked smoother out there than he has for most of this season.
My guess why: Without Lee dominating the ball on the post offense or as a weak part of the post defense, Bogut probably has more room on offense and a cleaner look at the defense in front of him.
Sometimes that makes the Warriors better without Lee. Sometimes it won't. But he's not indispensable and it was wrong to assume he ever was.
* You knew Jackson was on a Bruce Bochy-like hot streak when he put Bogut & Ezeli in together on a last offensive possession to close the first half, ran a pick-and-roll with Jarrett Jack and Ezeli... and got a bucket out of Ezeli.
Again, that's part of the reason I'm crediting Jackson so much: HE GOT MAJOR PRODUCTION OUT OF EZELI IN A CRUCIAL PLAYOFF GAME.
* Yes, by the way, Curry and Klay Thompson controlled the game from the perimeter, which is almost impossible to do on the road in the playoffs.
When those two are moving and passing... they are occasionally un-guardable together, and Denver didn't do a very good job of trying to guard them.
The Warriors didn't look to be running tricky stuff. They just put Kosta Koufos into pick-and-roll coverage as much as possible (bingo!) and ran Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson, et al through as many screens and double-screens as possible, until they just didn't want to chase Curry and Thompson that hard.
I don't know if the Warriors can shoot 64.6% again, but if they start hitting them at Oracle, I don't know that they'll stop.
* A note: In the second and third quarters of Game 2, the Warriors outscored Denver 70-52.
* And oh, before the round started, did somebody predict that the Warriors would even this series with a Game 2 victory and huge Steph Curry performance? Yeah, I think somebody did.
I think I'll still project Denver winning this in seven games. (I'm presuming Faried gets a lot quicker with two more off-days before Game 3 and as the series moves on.) But the Warriors just put a jolt into the NBA playoffs, which is always good.
They're going to miss David Lee and they're probably not going to get too much further. But for now, the Warriors showed what's possible and how dangerous they can be.