Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets: Western Conference Round 1 Preview
The battle between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets could make for the most entertaining matchup of the first round of the playoffs. Both teams like to get up and down the floor and can score points in bunches.
Ultimately, Denver's unparalleled home-court advantage could be the deciding factor.
Seeds: Golden State Warriors No. 6; Denver Nuggets No. 3
Records: Golden State Warriors 47-35; Denver Nuggets 57-25
Season series: Denver Nuggets won 3-1
Playoff schedule: Game 1 Saturday, April 20, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN), Game 2 Tuesday, April 23, 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT), Game 3 Friday, April 26, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2), Game 4 Sunday, April 28 TBD, Game 5 Tuesday, April 30 TBD, Game 6 Thursday, May 2 TBD, Game 7 Saturday, May 4 TBD
What Everybody's Talking About
The Nuggets are the NBA's great experiment. Basketball fans and insiders cannot wait to see if this team that was so successful during the regular season can advance deep into the playoffs without a superstar.
Do not let the lack of recognizable names fool you; the Nuggets have several very good players, starting with Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala.
What they lack in star power, they make up for with depth, which they use to run teams into the ground in the heavy air of the Mile High City.
Denver enjoyed the best home record in the league at 38-3.
Golden State is led by Stephen Curry, a brilliant offensive player who finished the year on a tear, averaging 26.8 points and 7.9 assists over his last 15 games (via NBA.com).
Curry also broke the record for most three-pointers in a season with 272.
David Lee is a double-double machine and was the Warriors' lone All-Star this season. He can finish around the basket with either hand using a wide variety of flip shots, hooks and floaters.
What Nobody's Talking About
The Warriors and Nuggets have contrasting offensive styles.
George Karl's team applies relentless pressure on opposing defenses by driving the ball into the paint as often as possible. It is not uncommon for the Nuggets to turn a made basket against them into a fast-break layup on the other end.
Golden State scores its points on outside shots and in the post. The Warriors led the league in three-point shooting percentage (40.3 percent). Curry only needs the slightest bit of daylight to get his shot off from downtown, which he nailed 45 percent of the time, and second-year guard Klay Thompson added 211 threes of his own.
Mark Jackson's team complements its outside shot by feeding the ball into the post. Lee and Andrew Bogut are able passers out of the high post and both possess an assortment of post moves. Carl Landry provides Jackson with another skilled post scorer off the bench.
Danilo Gallinari scored at least 20 points in each of the Nuggets' four games against the Warriors. As seen below, he contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists during Denver's 116-105 victory over Golden State on January 13.
The Nuggets responded well after Gallo tore his ACL in early April, with Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer and rookie Evan Fournier picking up the slack, but they may miss their second-leading scorer against Golden State's high-octane offense.
Key Matchup: Stephen Curry vs. Ty Lawson
Both Lawson and Curry are the engines for their respective teams. Lawson pushes the ball up the court as quickly as any player in the league and breaks down defenses with dribble penetration. Curry is an assassin from long range and an underrated passer.
The difference between the two is that Curry is capable of taking over a game by himself. The Golden State guard turned in two of the three best single-game performances this season, according to ESPN.com, with 54 points against the Knicks and 47 against the Lakers.
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