Doubt Carmelo at your own risk

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Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 deficit and won a seven-game playoff series.

Jazz fans can take comfort in that fact -- for now.

Utah owns a 3-1 lead in its series against Denver and clearly holds the upper hand against the fragile, shaken, defense-less Nuggets.

Before anyone starts booking flights to Los Angeles or Oklahoma City for the second round, however, I urge caution.

This series is not over.

Denver beat the Jazz in Game 1 at Pepsi Center and Utah needed a Magic Johnson-like performance by Deron Williams to steal a three-point win in Game 2.

At home, the Nuggets are a different team than the one that flopped miserably in Utah during Games 3 and 4.

If Denver can gather itself and win Wednesday night --and the Nuggets will be favored to do so -- the Jazz will find itself under extreme pressure to close out the series in Game 6.

If they don't, who would bet against the Nuggets -- after two straight wins -- in a Game 7 Sunday in Denver?

Not me.

The home-court situation notwithstanding, the Nuggets have a couple of other things working in their favor.

First and foremost, Carmelo Anthony is a flat-out stud.

He beat the Jazz by himself in Game 1. He rallied the Nuggets from a 20-point deficit by himself and forced Utah to play extremely well in the final minutes to preserve its victory in Game 4.

No longer the brash, immature youngster incapable of leading previous Denver teams, Anthony makes the wounded Nuggets a continuing danger to the Jazz.

Acting Denver coach Adrian Dantley criticized Anthony for not reading Utah's defense better and committing nine turnovers in Game 4.

Strange, considering the Jazz would have probably won by 30 without Anthony's 39- point performance.

In his postgame meeting with the media, Anthony practically begged his teammates for help.

Some believe 'Melo threw Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Nene and others under the proverbial Greyhound with the request.

Personally, I think it shows that Anthony still cares, which is another reason the Nuggets remain a threat to rally in this series.

I repeat: Anthony is a stud.

Doubt him at your own risk, even in a 3-1 series.