The Denver Nuggets took Game 1 this past Saturday 99-97 on a game-winning layup by Andre Miller. Miller played otherworldly in Game 1, carrying the Nuggets offensively down the stretch. The Warriors were led by second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson who hit an array of jump shots all over the floor, finishing with a team high 22 points. Chapter two will be written tonight. Let’s get to it:
- David Lee is out.
- Kenneth Faried is back and will be used as needed, according to coach Karl.
- Where? Pepsi Center — Denver, CO
- When? 10:30 ET [TNT]
- PG — Ty Lawson
- SG — Evan Fournier
- SF — Andre Iguodala
- PF — Wilson Chandler
- C — Kosta Koufos
- PG — Stephen Curry
- SG — Klay Thompson
- SF — Harrison Barnes
- PF — Carl Landry
- C — Andrew Bogut
The Nuggets were beaten badly on the board last game, 55-45. With David Lee out and Kenneth Faried back that number should tilt in Denver’s favor — key word being should. On paper, Denver looks to be the much better team but the Nuggets have their flaws.
1. Free-throw shooting
Free-throw shooting has been a problem all season — the Nuggets were the third worse free-throw shooting team in the regular season. But they shot the third most in the league. The rate at which Denver gets to the line can be attributed to their willingness to get out in transition and attack. A team that is constantly taking the ball to the rim is going to draw contact and thus shoot a lot of free-throws. Things were no different for the Nuggets in Game 1. They shot 28 free-throws, 13 more than Golden State, but hit just 64.3 percent of them. This could lead to problems down the road, if the Nuggets are able to make it deeper in the postseason, where every scoring opportunity needs to be taken advantage of.
2. Opponent 3-point shooting
Like free-throw shooting, this isn’t a new issue for Denver. The Nuggets have the fifth highest opponent 3-point rate with their opponents knocking down 36.7 percent of those attempts, per Hoopdata. 86.3 percent of 3-pointers made against the Nuggets were assisted on. What does this mean? Well it means that Lee’s injury could be a blessing and a curse for the Warriors. It means the Warriors may not win the rebounding battle in the series, but they could really take advantage of the Nuggets ineptitude in guarding the 3-point line by playing small. J.R. Smooth of WarriorsWorld.net suggested in his piece today that the Warriors could look to slide rookie Harrison Barnes to the power forward spot, in what would be a small ball lineup. A lineup combination of Jack-Curry-Thompson-Barnes could really strain the already shaky Nuggets’ 3-point defense.
3. This Steph Curry guy
Game 1 wasn’t Curry’s best showing. He shot just 7-of-20 from the floor and really struggled getting his shot going, and the Warriors still only lost by two points. Keeping Curry in check is going to be a problem all series. His quick stroke is deadly — every time he puts a shot up, I assume it’s going in. If Curry gets hot, the Warriors can beat anyone. The Nuggets are going to have to collectively make it a priority in shutting him down.
I think the Warriors are going to look at playing small and I think coach Karl is going to counter with a small lineup himself to match. I’m not sure what Faried will look like in Game 2, coming off an ankle sprain, but I imagine that if rebounding remains an issue for the Nuggets, as it was in Game 1, that Karl will inject Manimal in the lineup and play him for long stretches. Overall, I still don’t see the Nuggets losing in the Pepsi Center in the playoffs. 108-102; Nuggets head to the Bay Area with a 2-0 lead.
Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @lashy.