People knew that the Golden State Warriors were going to be a fun team to watch this year. Natural progression suggested that both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would take big steps forward (they did), and that, under Mark Jackson, this team would step forward as an offensive juggernaut (it did).
Win a playoff series, though? It was a long shot that this team would be one of the top four in the west, especially with an untested defense. But here we are: it’s early-May, and the Warriors are still standing, having put Denver away once and for all with a 92-88 victory. The win gave them a 4-2 series win, allowing Golden State to advance to face San Antonio.
The game started off well for the Nuggets, who took a 42-40 halftime lead into the locker room. But the third quarter belonged to the Warriors, who outscored Denver by 13. Sparked in large part by rookie forward Draymond Green (the former Big 10 Player of the Year finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench), a dominant 21-rebound paint performance from Bogut and another takeover third from Curry, the team looked poised to walk away with a comfortable margin.
Then Denver caught fire.
A stout defense that caused 20 turnovers (including nine in the fourth) led to easy buckets for the Nuggets’ usual suspects (Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee), and before we knew it, an 18-point lead was trimmed to three with less than a minute left. Golden State did just enough to hold on (including weathering a Curry drought; he only netted two points in the fourth, finishing the game with 22 overall – giving him a series average of 25-4-10), hitting free throws when they mattered and preventing Denver a comfortable look when it mattered most.
Now, we have a San Antonio-Golden State matchup to look forward to. And while you’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody picking the Warriors to win, remember: the Warriors’ have been proving people wrong all year, and now have an upset (undertaken in six games, no less) to prove for it. Something tells me that dismantling a very good Spurs team is a challenge that Curry and co. would love to tackle.
Back to Curry’s first round. It was nothing short of historic as explained by this fascinating ESPN article. An excerpt: “Curry is the only player in NBA history with at least seven assists and four 3-pointers in four straight playoff games. He did it in the first four playoff games of his career. Nobody else has ever done that in three straight playoff games.” Sheesh.
Over in the East, the Nets beat a terribly depleted Chicago Bulls team to force a game seven. The Bulls look more like a MASH unit than a basketball team as everyone seems hurt these days. Noah is hobbled. Nate Robinson was blowing chunks on the bench. Loul Deng and Kirk Hinrich were out and D. Rose is still wearing his Adidas Playoff PE wingtips.
The Nets really never seemed in trouble as the Medium Three each tallied 17 points in a boring, comfortable win.
Though the Nets totally blew the triple overtime game over the weekend, that may have been the best thing to happen to them as the Bulls don’t seem to have ever recovered from that draining game. It’s hard to imagine that they can recover and be any better in just two days.
I hate to count the Bulls out, but the Nets are the prohibitive favorites for game 7 and it’d be considered a massive choke job if they don’t end up with the win.
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