The Denver Nuggets looked like the hottest team in the NBA entering the NBA playoffs, but injuries and bad coaching took away all momentum from them. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors featured the best player in the series, Stephen Curry, while Mark Jackson might be whiny and slightly homophobic, but he knew how to bring the best of his players while rallying around Andre Bogut to come through with the upset, taking the series 4-2.
Game 6, in Oakland, was in the Warriors hands for most of the way, although the Nuggets came close at some point. But their defense throughout the series was atrocious, and George Karl deviated from what worked so well during the regular season, while not finding the right kind of balance between his point guards, Andre Miller and Ty Lawson, each causing his own damage in different games.
Lawson finished with 17 points on 21 field goal attempts in Game 6; Miller didn’t do much better, scoring only 8 points on 3-12 from the field. The Nuggets scored only 42 points in the paint while shooting an awful 34.7% from the field, unable to create quick points against a well prepared and excellent defensive team, built around a finally healthy Andrew Bogut, giving what was probably his finest ever playoff performance, scoring 14 points, to go along with his 21 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The series was dirty, physical and what not on both sides. But the Warriors backed up those ugly moments with some excellent basketball from Stephen Curry, who stepped out of the Monta Ellis shadow this season and blossomed under a head coach that knows a thing or two about point guards. Curry did turn over the ball 7 times. The Warriors turned the ball over 12 more times than the Nuggets, and shot only 40% from the field. They still won, because their best player didn’t force anything, and they got something off their bench the Nuggets never did.
Curry scored 22 points and added 8 assists, showing that unlike the plays on the opposite side of the court, he knows when to let his feet off the gas and focus on making others better. There was enough offense without him, as Jarrett Jack, back on the bench, scored 13 points, while Draymond Green added 16 in the most surprising performance of Game 6.
It’s the Spurs that are next, a much better team than both the Nuggets and the Warriors. But Golden State took a huge step as the franchise come back to the postseason with a series win, just like their drought breaking in 2007. With a team that’s confident and is much more than just about the offense a rare sharpshooter gives them, there’s no reason the Conference semifinals will be a little bit longer than most expect them to.