In Game 2 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Co., Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to a 131-117 victory over the Denver Nuggets. This marks just the fourth time all season that the Nuggets have lost at home.
More importantly, Curry's 30-point performance proves that the Warriors can advance past the Nuggets.
Under the bright lights of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Curry was absolutely sensational both as a scorer and facilitator. He finished with 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the field and 4-of-10 from beyond the arc, all the while tallying 13 assists.
All of this came at the Pepsi Center, where Denver was 38-3 during the regular season.
There was reason for fear during the game, as Curry rolled his ankle during the third quarter of action. With a long history of ankle injuries, Warriors fans were clearly worried about whether or not Curry could sustain another blow.
After resting for the final minutes of the third period, Curry was ruled good to go.
The Warriors say Stephen Curry is "good to return" after rolling his left ankle.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) April 24, 2013
Believe you me, Curry was good to go.
Curry opened up the quarter with a three and dished out four assists during the fourth period alone. This helped the Warriors to pull away and pick up one of the most impressive road wins of the season.
I repeat, the Nuggets were an NBA-best 39-3 at home, including the postseason, before Curry and the Warriors ran them out of the building—they hadn't lost in Denver since Jan. 18.
Success is Infectious
As previously alluded to, Stephen Curry pulled out a masterful 30 point and 13 assists performance during the Golden State Warriors' double-digit victory. As for how well Curry moved the ball, note that the Warriors shot 64.6 percent from the field and 56.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Despite attempting 18 free throws to the Denver Nuggets' 32, the Warriors controlled this game in every sense of the word.
Curry's shooting and facilitating opened lanes for players such as Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson to step into open looks. With Andre Iguodala attempting to lock down on Curry, that will continue in future games.
Each of those three players responded in a masterful way.
Jack picked up 24 points and seven assists on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor. Thompson continued to shoot the lights out with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Having Harrison Barnes go for 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting is just an added bonus.
Clearly, the Warriors are not going to shoot close to 65 from the field on a consistent basis. With that being said, Golden State is the best jump shooting team in the NBA by the numbers, and they should be able to continue spreading the floor.
Even without David Lee, the Warriors are an offensive powerhouse—it's Denver that is suffering from injuries the most.
The True Tale of Injuries
Much has been made of the fact that the Golden State Warriors lost All-Star power forward David Lee for the remainder of the season with a torn right hip flexor. There's good reason for this, as Lee led the NBA in double-doubles during the regular season.
Just don't forget how much the Denver Nuggets are suffering due to the ankle injury that their power forward, Kenneth Faried, is battling.
Faried, who led the Nuggets in rebounding during the regular season, suffered a sprained left ankle on Apr. 14. During the first two games of this series, Faried just hasn't been the same player while battling his ailments.
As painful as this is to acknowledge, Faried's been just about as effective as Lee—you know, the guy who isn't playing.
If Faried is able to reach full strength, he can be the difference-maker for the Nuggets. If not, Faried's lack of explosiveness will neutralize his contributions as The Manimal's energy and athleticism are significantly weakened.
Don't forget, Danilo Gallinari suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Gallo led the Nuggets in three-point field goals, which suddenly beckons a rational question.
Who has the true advantage?
Entering this series, the Denver Nuggets were viewed as the favorites. This comes after they led the NBA in scoring offense, points in the paint, fast break points and second chance points (via NBA.com).
Even still, it's not Denver who owns the only advantages.
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Warriors shot a league-best 40.3 percent from beyond the arc as a team. The Nuggets, meanwhile, ranked 25th in the NBA at 34.3 percent from distance and are now without their leader in three-point field goals, Danilo Gallinari.
Suddenly, it becomes an issue of where your advantages lie and not how many advantages you own.
Furthermore, the Warriors were fourth at 79.0 percent shooting from the free throw line. The Nuggets came in at 28th at 70.1 percent from the charity stripe.
In other words, the Nuggets are weakest in the two areas that most often decide postseason games.
The Warriors also averaged 1.6 more three-point field goals more per game than the Nuggets during the regular season. Even still, there is concern in reference to how the Warriors will play if they must rely on the three-ball.
Don't hold your breath.
Stephen Curry set the NBA record for three-point field goals in one season this past season, while Klay Thompson ranked third in the league. Gallinari came in at 33rd, leading the Nuggets with a full 76 less than Thompson.
Did we mention that the Warriors were 28-13 at the Oracle Arena? The Warriors can win this series, folks.
It's now an uphill battle for the favorites.