In a season that threatens to be the highest scoring we’ve seen in quite some time, the Denver Nuggets will try to overcome losing their second best scorer to a season ending injury, while the Golden State Warriors are hoping that the Stephen Curry magical shooting tour doesn’t end in the first round.
Both teams have their own playoff demons to handle. The Warriors haven’t been in it since 2007, when they upset the number one Mavs in the first round, but everyone keeps telling them that their brand of basketball just doesn’t cut in the postseason. So Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry aren’t the best defenders in the world, but that’s what Andrew Bogut is for – to try and stop the best team in the paint this season from getting those easy points all night long.
The Nuggets average 58 points per game in the paint this season; they scored 58-58-66 in their three wins over the Warriors this season. The only time Golden State came out on top was when the Nuggets were limited to 44 points. Coincidence? Probably not, but stopping them from getting those easy points means playing to a slower pace, which isn’t exactly the way the Warriors are built to play as well.
While the general idea of Nuggets basketball is to run opponents off the floor with their speed and physicality, they do have the ability, and the players, to play a different kind of game. Andre Miller can slow down things while Ty Lawson rests on the bench, nursing his injuries, and their center convention of Koufos and McGee might not be the most talented you’ll find offensively, but their certainly a menace on the offensive glass, hoping that Kenneth Faried won’t be letting that ankle injury slow him down.
The Warriors most important players might be waiting on the bench to give them the edge they need in the series – Jarrett Jack, who is quietly having an excellent season, usually playing in the final minutes of games next to Curry and Thompson, taking over the ball handling role while the rest wait to hit three pointers. Carl Landry, averaging 10.8 points and 6 rebounds per game this season, has the ability to make a difference against the overwhelming advantage the Nuggets have in the paint, but will need to bring the kind of consistency we haven’t seen from him throughout his career to make sure it happens for an entire series.
Prediction – Nuggets in six.