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NBA Playoffs 2013: Denver Nuggets Show They Are a Force with Game One Victory

DENVER, CO - APRIL 20:  Andre Miller #24 of the Denver Nuggets steals the ball from Jarrett Jack #2 of the Golden State Warriors during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 20, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 97-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Jon ReidCorrespondent IIApril 21, 2013

What an incredibly exciting opening game to the postseason for the Denver Nuggets.

Throughout the entire 48-minute slugfest, the Nuggets and Golden State Warriors were neck-and-neck, with the Nuggets ultimately coming out ahead thanks to an Andre Miller driving layup with under two seconds remaining in regulation to break a 95-95 tie.

Now, let me be clear: I am in no way saying yesterday was a great game for the Nuggets.

They were sluggish for much of the game and twice they missed at least seven consecutive field goal attempts.

Yet somehow, this team was able to fight back and come away with their 24th win in a row at the Pepsi Center.

The fact that the team was able to come away with a win in Game One, despite shooting just 44 percent from the field, 64 percent from the free-throw line and having their starting five combine to shoot just 35.3 percent from the field.

This may not paint an inspiring picture, but it shows that even when this team has an off night, they're more than capable of putting up nearly 100 points and beating a playoff-caliber team.

With Kenneth Faried still only day-to-day and Denver's starting five players all expected to have much better games than they did in Game One, it's scary how good this team can be.

Then there's the fact that the Nuggets were able to hold one of the hottest players in the league, Stephen Curry, to just 19 points on 7-of-20 shooting (35 percent).

While it's fair to ask that if we assume the Nuggets' starters are going to step up their game, why wouldn't Curry do the same? The difference is that Curry was well-guarded the entire game and rarely saw many open looks, meaning his struggles in Game One can be attributed to Denver's defensive play.

The Nuggets on the other hand, were uncharacteristically missing open looks. Wilson Chandler missed a number of open looks from downtown, as did Ty Lawson (the two combined to go 0-of-7 from beyond-the-arc).

To assume that the Nuggets will have a much better game Tuesday night is by no means a stretch.

Being better on offense in their half-court set, along with forcing more turnovers and fast-break opportunities will be key, but there is no reason to believe that this Denver squad won't improve in time for their next tilt.

When this team gets back to playing ball the way they have been since the All-Star break, the rest of the Western Conference better watch out.

 

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