Everything looks good when the shots are falling.
The Golden State Warriors hung a 131-117 road victory on the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night in Game 2 by shooting 64.6 percent from the field.
Series underdogs became Cinderella for a night when the Warriors proved that jump shooting can translate into playoff success—even if only for one night.
The outlook was ominous for the Warriors heading into the second game of their first-round series.
They entered without All-Star power forward David Lee, who was lost for the season after tearing a hip flexor in Game 1. Nuggets’ energizer Kenneth Faried was also making his return after missing Game 1 with a sprained ankle.
Oh, and Denver had not lost at home in 24 consecutive games. Fortunately for Golden State, incredible shooting proved to be the equalizer.
The Warriors connected on 14-of-25 (56 percent) from three-point range, led by Stephen Curry’s 56.5 percent shooting (13-of-23) that included four three-pointers. Klay Thompson also connected on 5-of-6 treys and had 21 points.
Burying jump shots at that rate—the highest of a postseason team since the Utah Jazz in 1991—covers all woes.
Great shooting will always beat bad defense, and Golden State's jump shots were falling on Tuesday. If those shots didn’t land, the focus might have fallen on a few different stats:
- The Warriors' defense allowed 50 percent shooting for 117 points.
- The Nuggets scored 50 points in the paint.
- The Warriors turned the ball over 17 times.
- Six Denver players scored 14 or more points.
Shooting the highest percentage in more than two decades won’t likely happen again in this series. If the Warriors want to continue their Cinderella run, they can’t rely on a preposterous shooting clip. There’s plenty of other things they did well that will lead to future success in this series.
Lost in the spotlight of Curry’s shooting performance was his 13-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He moved the ball well out of double-teams and overplays, and the Warriors were obviously able to take advantage of open looks.
Additionally, Golden State received superb play from rookie Harrison Barnes, who connected on jump shots but also attacked the rim with fervency. He shot 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) in a performance that made up for the loss of Lee.
Center Andrew Bogut played an undervalued role in the win, using his big frame to screen and free up Warriors shooters all over the floor. His ability to create space masked the team's unfruitful half-court offense.
Additionally, Golden State earned transition action out of its 30 defensive rebounds, allowing the Nuggets, dangerous on the glass, just six offensive rebounds. The Warriors also cut out the other strength of the Nuggets, limiting them to just eight fast-break points.
Of course, none of that would have mattered had the Warriors not shot the lights out.
The beauty of the jump shot is its ability to camouflage pain and perpetuate strengths. The Warriors deserved to win based off their scoring for one night, but sustained playoff success won’t come via the jump shot alone.