The Nuggets are in trouble, check that big trouble of having what was a historic season go up in flames tonight. Denver faces a 3-1 series deficit to the Golden State Warriors, after losing Game four 115-101 on Sunday night. The Nuggets have been outplayed and out-coached by the surging Warriors, having no answers for anything the Warriors do on offense or defense. If the Nuggets lose again this series, it will be the ninth time in their last ten playoff appearances, that they’ve been eliminated in the first round. With Denver having basically nothing to lose at this point, I think they should look to two bench players to possibly be the unsung heroes in reviving the Nuggets chances to win this series.
Stephen Curry has torched the Nuggets all series long, they’ve simply had no answer for him. Curry is averaging 27.3 points, 10.0 assists, 2.7 steals, shooting 50% from the field and 47% from the three point line in the series. He has constantly given the Nuggets fits in the pick and roll game, while also taking advantage of a slower Andre Miller multiple times this series. Now I expect Denver to probably start Iguodala on Curry for game five and the rest of the series but, they also should look to Julyan Stone to help on the defensive end. Stone is obviously quicker than Miller and I don’t believe Curry would have such a speed/quickness advantage on the second year guard, out of UTEP. Also at 6’6″ tall, Stone has the size to potentially give Curry problems, with his aggressive defense and long wing span, Stone could provide Denver the defensive presence they so desperately need this series. Stone’s size could also help Denver out on the glass, as guard Jarrett Jack has averaged 5.3 rebounds per game in the series so far. I think playing Stone for 10-20 minutes in game five, may be a smart play by Coach Karl.
Another area where Denver has struggled a lot in this series, has been the fact that they’re getting no production or physical play out of the front-court. Centers Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee have been playing poorly, to say the least this series. The Warriors have out-rebounded the Nuggets in every game in the series, primarily due to the efforts of center Andrew Bogut and forward Carl Landry. Bogut and Landry have combined to average 23.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.25 blocks and 2.0 steals this series against Denver’s big’s, outplaying and beating them up severely. Koufos and McGee have combined to only average 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.75 steals per game in the first round. The answer for Denver’s front-court woes could be, Russian center Timofey Mozgov who has seen limited minutes this season. However in games where he played 10+ minutes this season, Mozgov averaged 4.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.75 blocks per game. Mozgov plays fairly physical post defense and is arguably more skilled than both Koufos and McGee. He also has solid touch around the rim and a little 10-12 foot jumper, that could help Denver disrupt Golden State’s zone defense. Mozgov could be the answer for Denver’s lack of physicality in the front-court and rebounding issues in the series. At this point these suggestions may be me just having foolish optimism but, the Nuggets have their backs against the wall and at this point have nothing to lose. Mozgov and Stone could possibly be the difference in Denver’s season ending tonight or continuing on to a game six in Oakland.