Hurting ankle isn’t going to stop the Golden State Warriors from doing a little bit of upsetting and continue to be the most pleasant surprise in the NBA playoffs up to this point. He’s getting quite a lot of help from Jarrett Jack (on offense) and Andrew Bogut (on defense,), not to mention the fans inside the ORACLE Arena, but so far, there isn’t a single player in the postseason playing better than him.
How good? Curry is averaging 27.3 points and 10 assist per game through the first four games, leading the Warriors to a very surprising 3-1 lead in their series over the Denver Nuggets. Only six other NBA players – Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway, John Stockton and Allen Iverson have averaged more than 25-10 in a playoff series, although none of them lasted more than nine games in that specific postseason.
Curry put on another show for the home fans with 31 points and 7 assists on 10-16 from the field and 6-11 from beyond the arc. He completely erupted in the third quarter, scoring 22 points, making as many field goals (6) and more three-pointers (5) than the Nuggets did as a team from beyond 10 feet in the third. It ended in a 115-101 route, with the Nuggets, looking like the hottest team in the West entering the postseason, fell to injuries and mismatches they couldn’t respond to.
The last time the Warriors had a streak of successful seasons, Don Nelson was the head coach, in a basketball style completely based on finding mismatches. Now, the Warriors actually have a center, which was something that always lacked in Nellie-ball. The Nuggets, meaning George Karl, doesn’t have much faith in his centers, Kostas Koufos and JaVale McGee, hoping that small-ball with Wilson Chandler guarding Andrew Bogut, will work. It didn’t.
Not that Bogut is putting up legendary numbers, but he’s shutting down the paint, keeping the Nuggets on only 36 points, and hardly makes mistakes when he gets the ball, abusing Chandler with 12 points and 6-9 from the field. Kenneth Faried hasn’t been 100%, and hasn’t been able to attack the rim as usual, leaving the Nuggets unable to do anything but run, which is something the Warriors do just as well, only they suddenly have the edge on the inside.
Turnovers were a huge problem for Denver as well, losing the ball on 22.3% of their possessions and allowing the Warriors to score 33 points off those 23 turnovers. A team that looked like the most athletic in the NBA is completely falling apart on both ends of the floor.
That’s because Mark Jackson threw in Jarrett Jack to get big minutes right from the start, and the Nuggets can’t handle him. The usually backup point guard is averaging 20 points per game in the postseason, adding 21 points with a nearly perfect (8-9 from the field, 9 assists) day for him next to Curry and Klay Thompson, who is seeing less of the ball and relegated to only catch and shoot plays.
Is this the end for Denver in another first round series they fail to make it through, just like every season except for once since the arrival of George Karl? It isn’t over yet, but with Stephen Curry playing like the best basketball player in the world, it’s not too far from over.