It might have been his playoff debut with San Antonio, but DeMar DeRozan is no stranger to postseason action.
To open the sixth playoff appearance of his 10-year career, DeRozan finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to help lead the seventh-seeded Spurs to a Game 1 victory over the second-seeded Nuggets.
Leading up to the series, many favoured San Antonio over Denver simply because the Spurs collectively had much more playoff experience than the Nuggets. As NBA.com's Scott Rafferty noted in his series preview, "of the five players who led the [Nuggets] in minutes, Paul Millsap is the only one who has been in the playoffs before (87 career games)."
While the advantage is impossible to deny, DeRozan told reporters after the game that it's one that the Spurs shouldn't rely on too much: "It's a great advantage but we can't take that for granted. We've got to understand that's still an excellent team over there. They're second in the Western Conference for a reason."
DeRozan, who has now played in 52 career playoff games, clearly looked like someone who had been there before as he made plays to help lead his team to a road victory to open the series.
Perhaps the biggest sign of DeRozan having seen just about everything the playoffs have to offer is his understanding that things will only get tougher as the series progresses: "Just because we've got a little bit more experience - we can't lean on that, we've got to understand we've got to play even harder next game and try to make everything that much tougher."
The four-time All-Star added that "I'm pretty sure on their home floor they're going to come back and feel some type of embarrassment and want to tie this thing back up. We've got to be aware of that and understand that Game 2 is going to be even harder than [Game 1]"
The Nuggets will look to tie things up in Game 2 on Tuesday, April 16 at 9:00 p.m. on NBATV Canada.