To get his first playoff victory ever, Stephen Curry simply did what he did best – shoot to the best of his ability, soon followed by the Golden State Warriors, who tied the series at 1-1 while setting a few NBA postseason milestones along the way.
Curry scored 30 points on 13-23 from the field, hitting four three-pointers and adding 13 assists. The athleticism and physicality of the Denver Nuggets isn’t as impressive when the Denver Nuggets are forced to play small ball, but their big advantage in that setup, Kenneth Faried, is far from his best, adding only 4 points. The Warriors couldn’t miss from the moment the second quarter began, finishing with a 131-117 win, making it 1-1 in the series and having three consecutive quarters of 35 points to close out the game.
The Warriors shot an incredible 64.6% from the field, the highest in a playoff game since April 25, 1991. Their 131 points is the highest in the playoffs since Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, when the Celtics clinched the title with a 131-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
And Curry? He was 12-19 when shooting from 15 feet or beyond, and an incredible 8-9 on mid-range jumpers. While being the best in the NBA on those kind of shots this season, the interesting thing was how eventually the Nuggets defense couldn’t stop from trying to double team him with help often opting to save the day, and Curry didn’t miss an opportunity to find open men.
Klay Thompson couldn’t miss with 5-6 from beyond the arc, scoring 21 points. Harrison Barnes was deadly from inside and outside, scoring 24. Jarrett Jack, who started for David Lee and gave the Nuggets all sort of problems, finished with 26 points while shooting 10-15 from the field. The Nuggets entire defensive formation crumbled, and they couldn’t change the turn of the tide by playing faster basketball or intensifying the pressure. The Warriors wouldn’t miss, and answered every bad defensive possession with a three pointer, making 56% of their shots from beyond the arc.
Curry also became only the third player in the history of the Warriors with a 30 points, 10 assists game in the postseason, as weird as that sounds. Sleepy Floyd did it in 1987 and Rick Barry did it in 1975, while you would expect that someone like Baron Davis or Tim Hardaway to have those kind of nights over the years.
Mark Jackson now has his first playoff win, and so do most of the players on the Warriors. They didn’t play great defense, although Andre Bogut’s presence is more important than his numbers might suggest. On this team it’s not his job to put up 15-10 nights like it was for the Bucks, it’s about being the only guy that can actually make a difference without the ball. Offensively, there’s simply too much talent, making his four point games not too noticeable.
Is it enough to turn this series around? If the Nuggets don’t start getting more from players like Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee and Kostas Koufos, countering the Warriors’ ability to score quick points in no time, this is going to be quite a surprising turn of events in a series not many people thought Golden State could win.