Thanks to an incredible offensive game that included the game winning bucket from Professor Miller the Nuggets took game 1, 97-95. Miller took over the game on the offensive side of the floor in the fourth quarter, willing the Nuggets to points. Defensively the Nuggets kept Stephen Curry in check for most of the game despite him hitting a three to tie the game up late.
|Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | 0
Koufos didn’t finish well on the offensive end but he rebounded the ball pretty well and made life at the rim tough for the Warriors at times.
|Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8
Lawson had a strange game. When Klay Thompson was matched up with him he struggled to really do much of anything. But when he saw Jarrett Jack or Harrison Barnes on him Lawson attacked the rim relentlessly getting easy baskets for himself and teammates. The Nuggets need more of that second Lawson to continue to be successful.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 39 MIN | 5-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +10
Chandler rebounded great in the first half; he had 11 of his 13 then, and played very good defense on David Lee. Offensively he was normal Chandler, at his best when attacking the rim and streaky when settling for jumpers. The rebounding was the biggest deal though with Denver missing Faried. He also did a great job denying Curry the ball in the possession where Golden State burned their final timeout.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-6 FT | 10 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +11
The offensive numbers look iffy but on the other end of the floor Iggy was his typical self. He saw time on Curry, Thompson and Jack and defended them all pretty well. There were a few times he lost Thompson for baskets but his late game work on Jack was terrific forcing the Warriors to burn their final timeout which ended up coming very much into play. Things are just different defensively with Iguodala on the floor.
|Evan Fournier, SG 22 MIN | 3-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +1
Fournier started the game very well attacking Curry and getting to the rim but things fell apart a bit. He needs to hit threes to provide spacing and had some defensive miscommunications at times. Not a bad playoff debut for the rookie though.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Randolph was on the floor but didn’t have that much of an impact. The hook was terrible but the ball fake on the dunk wasn’t.
|Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +1
Brewer impacted the game much more than his shooting numbers show. He deflected passes on defense and his threes really changed the game and sent momentum back to the Nuggets.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 4-4 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -4
It has gotten to the point that Playoff Pierre is clearly a thing. JaVale dominated the game at times most notably the end of the first half where he made a terrific cut and but Andrew Bogut on a poster. Just a few defensive possessions later he denied David Lee’s dunk attempt and Denver got back into the game around halftime. The second half had a few defensive lapses and rebounding problems but he was clearly gassed when it was happening.
|Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 11-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 28 PTS | +5
Wow. Miller has always had moments offensively where he becomes unstoppable and tonight’s fourth quarter was another one of those times. He YMCA’d his way to bucket after bucket including the game winning reverse layup that showed more athleticism than I thought Miller had. For someone I had said could, and would, cost the Nuggets a game this postseason because of too much hero ball and a lack of defensive effort it was a game that makes me step back and give him all the props he deserves.
Karl experimented with lineups he had not showed much at all (Koufos/McGee, McGee/Randolph) and trapping Curry on high screens. Curry had an off night and the Nuggets came away with a win and without having to use Faried before his is ready. It was a very good job by Karl outside of a few moments.
Five Things We Saw
- Curry Contained: I am going to go back and do a more in depth look at Curry’s 20 shot attempts once video gets up on the NBA media site, but Denver held him to 19 points on 20 shots. He missed some open ones but the Nuggets made life tough on him by working him on the other end of the floor with Fournier and throwing a lot of different defenders at him. It may not happen again so it was important for Denver to win the game.
- Length on Lawson: Ty Lawson really seemed to be bothered by the length of the six-foot-seven Thompson. He would get into the paint and have to pull up and make a pass because he had no clean looks at the rim. He did dominate Jarrett Jack though, so there is hope if the Nuggets can continue to get him into mismatches. Iguodala also did a good job creating some offense for a bit when Lawson was being hounded by Klay. I assume we may see a bit more of that as the series goes on, especially Iguodala in the post.
- Defensive Versatility: As usual Iguodala was great defensively most of the game and he did it guarding a multitude of players. But two other players did great jobs on multiple guys as well and it may fly a bit under the radar. Wilson Chandler saw minutes on Curry, Lee, Barnes, and Landry and performed very very well. In fact he was denying Curry the ball on the play that forced the Warriors to call a timeout, and was on him tight when Lawson stole the ball from behind. Corey Brewer also saw time on Thompson and Curry and did well chasing both around screens. The length and athleticism the three bring, especially in passing lanes, will be a big part of the Nuggets defensive performance in the series.
- The Injury Factor: While the Nuggets seem like they will be getting back a starting power forward for Game 2, the Warriors may have lost theirs. David Lee went down with what looked like a hip injury and was seen mouthing the words, “I heard a pop.” For a team that is not necessarily deep like the Warriors the loss is a big deal. It will probably mean Carl Landry joins the starting lineup and Draymond Green, who Miller beat on the final possession, will see rotation minutes. It also may mean more small ball with Bogut in the middle and Barnes at power forward which Faried may be able to take advantage on, on the offensive glass if he is indeed fully healthy.
- Game 2: Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Denver at 8:30 MST.
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