Maybe instead of becoming one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, we’ll remember Stephen Curry as a player that couldn’t beat the injuries that plagued him and specifically his ankle. But for now, in 2013, he’s strong enough to beat and overcome these hurdles to put the Golden State Warriors in a position no one thought they’d be this deep into the season.
Another impressing shooting game from the red-hot guard, scoring 29 points on a hurting ankle, leading the Warriors to another very close win over the Denver Nuggets (110-108), taking a 2-1 lead in the series they were quite big underdogs going into it.
But the Nuggets are subdued – Kenneth Faried is playing big minutes again (30 this time, scoring 15 points), but they’re not crashing the boards like they did in the regular season, and it seems 54 points in the paint just isn’t enough against the Warriors, continuing to shoot over 40% from beyond the arc. Curry hit four three pointers and Harrison Barnes added three more. The Nuggets are trying to push the pace and into the paint but Andrew Bogut, with a surprising help from Carl Landry, getting more minutes without David Lee, are doing much better defensively than they would have with the injured All-Star player.
Ty Lawson was huge for the Nuggets, scoring 35 points and adding 10 assists, but the Nuggets went in the wrong direction during the final minutes, putting the ball in the hands of Andre Miller who wasn’t having one of his finest days, scoring only 7 points on 2-13 from the field. His mistakes helped the Warriors come back from 13 points down in the third quarter, along with Jarrett Jack being the right kind of balance to Curry with 23 points, while Barnes and Landry both added 19 points.
The fans seemed to be something special, and coach Jackson and others couldn’t stop pouring the compliments. The fans really had that energy stored up. I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s nothing like something being as good as advertised. They were loud. They were consistent, and we fed off them even when we didn’t match their intensity.
The Warriors aren’t exactly the best defensive team in the league, and giving up 108 points at home are quite the proving point to that, but they’re getting the stops when they need to, which is something you’d expect the Nuggets to do with Iguodala and JaVale McGee on the floor. Instead, the Nuggets are forced to try and place small ball, which hasn’t been really working for them in the long run, failing to match the Warriors shot for shot.
The Warriors shot 52.2% from the field, beating the Nuggets’ 46.5%. They also won the rebounding battle on the offensive glass and in general, showing that the soft, fun-to-watch but not efficient Warriors of old. The most interesting thing about them is still guards like Curry and Klay Thompson (on a very bad night). They went on a 16-2 run in the third quarter to come back from their big deficit, and denied Andre Iguodala a potential game tying three pointer in the final seconds of the game.
As long as this series is about trading shots from long range instead of trying to slow things down and play a little more paint and low post oriented basketball, the Golden State Warriors can feel quite confident things will be going their way.