As expected, offense came quickly in this game, as both teams got out in transition and executed with efficiency. Surprisingly, it was the rookies who started the action, as Denver's Evan Fournier and Golden State's Harrison Barnes provided the early scoring punch.
It took a full quarter for the stars to match their pace.
Stephen Curry struggled to shoot early but moved the ball well enough to enable the likes of Jarrett Jack, David Lee and Klay Thompson to perform at a high level. For Denver, it was Wilson Chandler who stepped up while the rest of the team stalled in the second quarter.
As for the Nuggets' bigs, referees whistled JaVale McGee on a controversial goaltending call, stunting Denver's momentum.
It became no easier for Denver in the second quarter, as it scored just two points during the first four minutes of the second quarter and managed 16 total in that period.
With Curry missing his first nine field goals, it was surprising to see the Warriors maintain their lead. Fortunately for skeptic Warriors fans, Curry converted a three-ball late and dished out eight assists during the first half alone.
McGee responded, this time throwing down a Dunk of the Year candidate over Andrew Bogut.
During the third quarter, the Nuggets came to life behind Ty Lawson's dribble penetration skills and Corey Brewer's hot shooting. They outscored the Warriors by a margin of 27-16, thus taking a 71-64 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors quickly responded, with Curry, Thompson and Carl Landry coming up with key baskets.
Even as David Lee left with an apparent hip injury, the Warriors kept on the pressure and managed to counter Denver's offensive output. It then became a point guard battle, with Lawson, Andre Miller, Curry and Jarrett Jack taking control.
Curry hit a game-tying three-pointer with 14 seconds to go, but Miller won the game with a layup with less than two seconds on the clock. That's playoff basketball, folks.
Don't jump the gun on name value—the Nuggets' backup point guard was the best player on the floor today.
During the fourth quarter of play, Miller was absolutely sensational. He worked the open court, made key passes and capitalized on defenders under-cutting screens.
Miller scored 18 points in the fourth quarter alone and finished the game with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the floor. He also picked up five assists, three rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes of action.
Miller capped it all off with the game-winning lay-up.
Thirty-seven years young.
Before we move forward with the reactions to the action, there is a more important story. That refers, of course, to the injury sustained by Golden State Warriors All-Star power forward David Lee.
Per Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group, Lee limped off the floor and went to the locker room in severe pain while holding his hip.
David Lee "will not return" with a probable right hip flexor strain— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) April 20, 2013
This could be a devastating injury for the Warriors.
As for the basketball itself, the Twittersphere had their eyes all over this clash of offensive powerhouses. Surprisingly, the first moment that took the world by storm came on the defensive end.
After JaVale McGee caught a Carl Landry field goal attempt in mid-air, the referees called an extraordinary, clean block as goaltending. Twitter instantly offered an opinion on why that was.
Amin Elhassan of ESPN had the most rational explanation.
Ref called that goaltend because he had no idea what he just saw— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) April 20, 2013
Unfortunate, but most likely true.
During the first 22 minutes, the game played out in a rather unexpected manner—from Denver's inefficiency while attempting to score the ball in the second quarter to Golden State's three-point shooting woes.
In the final 1:20 of the second period, however, Stephen Curry made his first three of the night, and McGee converted a monstrous dunk.
Curry hits his first shot, McGee gets his first dunk... OK this series is going now.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 20, 2013
All was well from there on out.
There was reasonable concern about Curry's first-half performance, as he shot just 1-of-10 from the field. He also converted just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Did you know he can pass, though?
Stephen Curry created 17 points off of his assists in the first half, more than any player on either team scored— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 20, 2013
That was nearly the story of the game.
Despite being dunked on early, Andrew Bogut never wavered on the defensive end of the floor. From blocked shots to saved loose balls, Bogut was everywhere.
In turn, his name took on a new meaning.
Bogut: Australian for defense.— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) April 20, 2013
Nine points, 14 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and a steal speak to that.
With all of this praise for the Warriors, we'd be remiss to ignore how dominant the Nuggets were at times. Perhaps no player embodied their late-game brilliance quite like veteran point guard Andre Miller.
Miller's fourth-quarter scoring was a breath of fresh air.
Andre Miller = 16 points and counting in the fourth quarter— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) April 20, 2013
Miller upped that number to 18 and scored 69 percent of Denver's total fourth-quarter points—including the game-winner.
As fate would have it, the first day of the NBA playoffs provided us with a game-winner with 1.3 seconds remaining. In turn, the Twittersphere erupted with praise for Miller's heroics.
That was the story all game.. Andre Miller! Good learning experience for the Dubs tho— Seth Curry (@sdotcurry) April 21, 2013
Even Stephen Curry's younger brother had to acknowledge Miller.
Who's ready for Game 2?