Stephen Curry and David Lee will need to be at their best to beat the Nuggets.
These two top rebounding teams will put on a show, and it will depend on who can execute the fundamentals that will determine the outcome of the series.
This seven-game series will feature the sharp-shooter Stephen Curry and double-doubler David Lee versus the Nuggets’ guard Ty Lawson and glass cleaner Kenneth Faried. During the season and on paper, these teams are very even, but this is playoff time and things will be amped up.
Denver has the season series advantage (3-1), but the Warriors let one of the games get away from them in the final minutes. Look for a frenetic fast-paced series that will feature a lot of shooting, a lot of scoring, and a lot of highlights.
The home-court advantage of the Nuggets will play a large part in this series, even with the season-ending injury to Danilo Gallinari and recent injuries to Faried’s ankle and Ty Lawson’s plantar fascia tear. The Nuggets posted a 38-3 record at Pepsi Center.
Will those injuries be significant enough to limit the Nuggets, and can the Warriors’ “#WeBelong” get them to the second round?
The Warriors have to be focused in their first game in Denver.
Game 1 can be a momentum changer if the visiting team steals one from the higher seed.
The Warriors will need this game more than any, as the injuries are still fresh for Ty Lawson and the “Manimal” Kenneth Faried.
Golden State must use center Andrew Bogut in order to stop the onslaught of driving by the Nuggets guards and force Denver to shoot outside.
On offense, Stephen Curry will need to continue to shoot, as he averaged over 66 percent from behind the arc in the four games against Denver this season. However, he'll have to shoot better than the 25.6 percent he averaged against the Nuggets from close range, and drive to the basket.
I would expect David Lee to have a big game in his playoff debut, taking feeds from both Curry and Bogut. He will also need to take advantage of the questionable Faried.
Denver will counter with Lawson, Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala and Wilson Chandler in different formations.
The crowd will pump up the Nuggets, but the Warriors lack of fear and momentum carrying over from Curry breaking the three-point record will carry them to the opening-game upset.
Final Score: Warriors 103, Nuggets 97
Stephen Curry will need to play tight defense in the series.
Game 2 will be a reality check for the Golden State Warriors as the Nuggets bring their “A” game to Pepsi Center. They'll have a strong focus and will want to run the Dubs off the court.
Andre Iguodala is out to give rookie Harrison Barnes a distinct memory for the remainder of the series by displaying his athletic talents, and Ty Lawson will do a better job distributing the ball to the perimeter and get the transition game running.
The Warriors will fall into one of their signature offensive lulls and face an almost 20-point deficit in the second quarter. They'll make a comeback, build confidence and get the necessary playoff experience as they prepare for a return to Oracle.
Stephen Curry will score modest numbers and Andrew Bogut will sit out most of the second half so that he can play in the most important game of his young Warriors career.
The seven-man playoff bench will be expanded in the fourth quarter to get some playoff time for the younger players and the two older statesmen, Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins.
Final Score: Nuggets 110, Warriors 91
Klay Thompson will need to step his game up.
The series shifts to Oakland, and the raucous crowd will finally get a taste of the playoff Dubs.
The fans have been waiting six years for this Warriors’ playoff appearance, and it is only their second postseason run since 1994.
People will be throwing parties all around the area, which should develop into a block party. An Andrew Bogut block party, that is.
The Warriors will finally get a glimpse of the defensive intensity that they traded Monta Ellis for at the end of last season. Bogut will stop the transition game and frustrate the Nuggets.
Look for him to make at least three blocks, with one of them coming at a time when the Nuggets are just about to seize momentum in the game. Bogut may even to do his best reproduction of the famous block-slam show that he put on against the New York Knicks during his days with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack will keep the Nuggets spread out across the floor with their consistent shooting. Curry will tantalize the crowd by scoring over 40 points with both three-balls and dazzling dribble-drive penetration plays.
The Nuggets will try and force their way through the Warriors defense, but Bogut, Festus Ezeli and even Andris Biedrins will force the action away from the basket.
The Warriors will win their homecoming and realize that they have to sweep their home games if they want a chance to advance to the second round.
Final Score: Warriors 106, Nuggets 94
David Lee will have his best game of the series in Game 4.
With the Golden State Warriors up 2-1 in the series, this is where the rubber meets the road. The Warriors either build the momentum or it falls right back into the laps of the Denver Nuggets.
The Dubs decide that they like the feel of the playoffs and continue to find success. Here, they use more of the inside game to fuel their hot shooting from the perimeter.
The Nuggets counter with more Andre Miller in combination with Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala. They also try to give big man JaVale McGee a chance to bang his big body around the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and David Lee.
Lee continues his success in the grind-it-out matchup with the still-injured Kenneth Faried, but on this night, he gets close to a triple-double. He also finds more avenues and uses the help of skilled-passing big man Andrew Bogut.
Coach Jackson differentiates the game by using his bigs, but he still pushes it out to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
This game doesn’t have many lead changes, but it remains close throughout. The Warriors capitalize on their improved defense to make the crucial stop at the end of the game and return to Denver only one win away from the second round.
Final Score: Warriors 98, Nuggets 96
Jarrett Jack will be key down the stretch in this series.
Golden State gets their first taste of a close-out game in the playoffs, as they return to Denver for Game 5.
The Nuggets have had a chance to recuperate, so all of their top-notch talent is running full speed. Did I mention this game was being played in Denver?
The Nuggets take advantage of the Warriors in this game by forcing their inside presence and running their transition game. The big men set the screens, which leaves Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala open to take full advantage of free points.
Denver also tires Golden State out and forces them into constantly fouling players after they are beaten by their man. The free-throw discrepancy is 20 in this game and the Nuggets convert on most of their opportunities.
Late, hot shooting by Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry make this more of a game, but the Warriors will be hard pressed to close out the series at home in Game 6.
Final Score: Nuggets 104, Warriors 95
The Warriors see the end goal and take full advantage of it.
The Warriors have a chance to close the series out, while the Nuggets want to build off the momentum they created in Game 5.
Golden State is amped up by one of the greatest fanbases in sports, but things are tight early on. A few turnovers and short shots call for an early entrance from their sixth man, Jarrett Jack. Jack, who has previous playoff experience with the New Orleans Hornets, hits a few clutch shots and opens up the game with Curry at the 2-position.
The Nuggets are executing early on as well, as their big men are fighting for boards and making crisp transition passes as soon as the ball touches their hands.
Jack remains in the game for an extended period in the first half to calm the nerves of the younger players and Warriors fans. Coach Jackson rotates Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes for that segment of the game.
In the second half, the two stars of the Dubs’ season start to light it up. David Lee finds holes near the rim and converts on passes from Curry and Andrew Bogut. Stephen Curry lights up the scoreboard with three-pointers and fancy drives.
The Nuggets counter back with Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Andre Iguodala, who keep the game close. However, the “#WeBelong” Warriors are just too strong and too focused to let this slip out of their hands.
It is a very captivating series, but the Warriors shock the world again in six games.
Final Score: Warriors 103, Nuggets 92
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