The Denver Nuggets were not able to withstand the hot-shooting Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Game 4. Golden State matched its 14-point win from Game 2 with a 115-101 three-point festival on Sunday.
After taking a 2-1 advantage in the series, Golden State pulled off its biggest win of the past six years, pulling out to a near-insurmountable lead over Denver.
Even if the Nuggets end up taking Game 5 in Denver, they would still need to win away from home in Game 6 to extend this series. But if the Warriors shoot 55.7 percent from the field like they did in Game 4, this series is unlikely to extend past five games.
In the first two games, Golden State ran a zone defense that gave Denver fits in its attempts to speed the game up and get into the paint.
The Warriors have gone away from it, save for a handful of possessions in the past two games, yet Denver has had the same issues getting inside. The Nuggets scored just 36 points in the paint in their most recent loss.
Andrew Bogut has been an enforcer inside, and his four blocks Sunday helped halt Denver's slashers. Though is he only averaging 27 minutes per game in the postseason, that is an increase from 24.6 MPG, his regular-season average.
CBS' Ken Berger was quite impressed with the seven-foot Australian, tweeting, "Here at Oracle, Andrew Bogut is putting on a dunking, behind-the-back passing clinic. Didn't think I'd see that when I left NY this morning."
Denver cannot get into a three-point-shooting match with Golden State like it did in Games 2 and 4. The Nuggets made just six of their 20 three-pointers in Game 4, compared to Golden State making 11-of-26. Denver hit just 9-of-26 in Game 2, compared to Golden State's 14-of-25.
With three-point marksmen like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who head coach Mark Jackson calls the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game, it is inevitable that they will hit some shots.
Perhaps most troubling is that Curry has been shooting better when he's been guarded:
Via Synergy going into the night, Curry missed both open looks. Nailed 6 of 9 guarded.10 of 15 on jumpshots off the dribble.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 29, 2013
Carl Landry and Bogut have been overpowering down low, giving Kosta Koufos, the slowed Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee fits.
David Lee, who is done for the postseason after tearing his right hip flexor, is more of a finesse player. McGee would have an easier go altering his shots than Bogut, who has just been banging him out of the way.
Perhaps the Warriors are just a bad matchup for the Nuggets.
Not only do they have the best player in the series (Curry), they've suddenly got the best post player (Bogut), the best microwave (Thompson) and the best veteran leader (Jarrett Jack).
On the other end, Corey Brewer hasn't been hitting enough shots, and Andre Iguodala has never really taken over. Ty Lawson has done his best to keep up with Curry, but he just can't keep up with the ridiculous shooting pace.
Though every team has to deal with injuries, losing Danilo Gallinari has clearly been huge for Denver, and it hasn't been able to put it all together without him consistently. Faried hasn't been himself, and if not for a miraculous Game 1 from Andre Miller, this series could have been over in four.
Things certainly look bleak right now, and Denver will need to put everything together to extend this series to Game 6.