The Golden State Warriors played host to the Denver Nuggets for Game 6.
Entering the game, the Warriors and the Nuggets were the No. 1 and No. 3 scoring teams, respectively. Neither team was able to shoot 40 percent in the first half, and the 42-40 score in Denver's favor was unanticipated by most who had watched this series unfold.
As surprising as the two stagnant offenses were early, the surprise of the contest came during the pregame warm-ups. David Lee, who had previously been declared out for the remainder of the playoffs, was dressed and on the floor, and he ended up playing for a brief moment in the first half.
His impact was small, but it's a sign that he may be able to play a bigger role the further the team gets.
In the third quarter, Golden State began to turn it on, and it was once again because of Stephen Curry. Following a quiet, inefficient first half, the guard came out with a willingness to keep shooting, and he helped the Warriors outscore the Nuggets 33-20 in the period.
With an 11-point lead heading into the fourth, Golden State had all the momentum, but the Nuggets had one final run left in them. A 13-0 run halfway through the fourth made this one a contest, and the mistakes of a youthful Warriors roster nearly cost them in the end.
Heading into a second-round series with the San Antonio Spurs, two things are clear. First, when the Warriors are on fire, they might be the most fun team to watch in the NBA. Unfortunately for them, the other thing to note is how close they were to giving this one away.
Turnovers and poor late-game execution won't cut it against San Antonio, and those will be two things to focus on in their first second-round appearance since 2007.
Stephen Curry, playing the point guard position, got off to another slow start. In five of the six games in this series, the 25-year-old has scored two or fewer points in the first quarter, and this one proved to be no exception.
Commend Curry for his willingness to look for his teammates. He had five assists early, and he proved that he can make a difference without putting the ball in the basket.
The problem, however, isn't that he wasn't scoring—it's that he was shooting poorly from the floor.
Out of his first five shots, Curry made just one. The second period marked the first quarter of the series that he failed to record a single field goal or assist, and he entered the second half with just six points.
As we've seen so many times, it doesn't take much for Curry to get going. The third quarter saw him nail a couple of open looks from behind the arc, and that's all he needed to pick up speed en route to 22 points.
He also finished with eight assists, four rebounds and seven turnovers.
Ty Lawson got off to a hot start for the Denver Nuggets.
The point guard led all scorers after 24 minutes with 12 points. He made six of his 14 first-half shots, but it came at the expense of his assists, as he had only recorded one.
Late in the game, Lawson continued to play well, but it was the middle section of the game that went completely unmemorable. He had a number of good showings in this series, but this one saw stretches where he nearly disappeared.
He scored 17 points on just 7-of-21 shooting with six assists.
Like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala was plagued by inefficient shooting in Game 6. Unlike Klay Thompson, Iggy found a way to score by knocking down shots from behind the arc throughout the second half.
The guard/forward made five of his eight shots from three-point range, but he totaled just 7-of-18 from the field on the night.
The other difference between Iguodala and Thompson is that Iguodala was able to help out his team in other areas. He had nine rebounds and six assists to go along with his game-high 24 points.
With Stephen Curry starting slowly, the Warriors needed someone else on the perimeter to step up.
Unfortunately for Golden State, that someone wouldn't be Klay Thompson, as he had an extremely forgetful showing Thursday night.
Despite shooting better than 41 percent from the three-point line in the postseason, Thompson missed all six shots from behind the arc, and he made just one of his first nine field goals.
Going just 3-of-13 in a hefty 46 minutes, Thompson scored seven points, the fewest of any starter for both teams. He did grab five rebounds, but that hardly makes up for missing his shots, as that took away from his primary role as a shooter on this roster.
It sounds crazy to say, but Harrison Barnes was yet another Golden State Warriors perimeter player who couldn't get his shot to fall in this one.
After shooting 46.2 percent from long range in the first five games, Barnes missed each of his first four deep attempts. He couldn't score from close or from far, and he finished with just 11 points in 37 minutes.
The impressive part about Barnes is that he still seemed composed regardless of his struggles. In fast-break situations, he wasn't afraid of taking the contested shots, and with the crowd on his side, his confidence continued to rise as the game came to an end.
He only made one of his six three-point shots, but Mark Jackson kept him in the game late, proving that playmaking is more than just making shots with this rookie.
Wilson Chandler had as ugly of a game as anybody in either starting lineup. His shot was off from all over the floor, and he ended making just 29.4 percent of his shots against Golden State.
The problem was that despite his poor shooting, Chandler clearly wasn't afraid to fire away in his 36 minutes on the floor, as he made just five of his 17 attempts.
A low-scoring performance isn't the end of the world, but a shooting performance that horrible makes a difference in a very negative way, especially when your team makes just 34.7 percent of its shots in an elimination contest.
Unlike most players on the Denver Nuggets, Kenneth Faried played an efficient game in this one.
While his teammates were throwing up contested looks and rushed shots, Faried took advantage of good looks to score 11 points. He did collect five fouls along the way, but that aggressiveness is what earned him 11 rebounds.
If Faried did anything wrong in this one, it was refusing to look for his own shot. He's not that kind of player at this point in his career, but it would have been a welcomed move by fans for him to take attempts away from those who were hurting the team with their poor shooting.
Carl Landry found himself in the starting lineup Thursday night, and while nobody will claim he was the star of the show, his efficiency and energy were positive signs for the Golden State Warriors.
In the third quarter, Stephen Curry began to find his stroke, and believe it or not, that is what helped Landry find his own momentum. The Nuggets began to focus on Curry, the crowd began to will its team to success and Landry took advantage of both facts with the game on the line.
In the end, the big man recorded nine points and five rebounds in just 19 minutes.
Andrew Bogut has played extremely well in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. Game 6 didn't prove to be the same kind of dunking showcase we saw the last time the Golden State Warriors were at home, but he made his impact felt in a number of ways, especially early.
In the first half, Bogut recorded a team highs of eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. He also made four of his five shots, showing how efficient he'd been up to that point.
From the third quarter on, Bogut's production slowed down in the scoring department, but he was just as dominant on the boards. He scored 14 points on 70 percent shooting, but his 21 rebounds earn him the most recognition heading into the second round.
JaVale McGee didn't play an integral part in the Denver Nuggets offense, but a quiet game can still be a good game when you play well in a number of areas.
McGee, despite scoring just nine points, shot 57 percent on the night. He was aggressive the entire way, and he managed to make a few good plays on both sides of the floor.
His 10 rebounds won't stack up in comparison to Bogut's, but it was an impressive showing nonetheless, as he finished with a team-high plus-eight in the plus/minus category.
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson starting slowly, Jarrett Jack took it upon himself to contribute in the scoring column early. Unfortunately for the Golden State Warriors, his somewhat troublesome shot selection came back to bite him in this one.
In the first half, Jack's shot was off to the tune of 2-of-7 shooting. He wasn't playing a drastically different game than he's played up to this point; his jumpers and floaters simply weren't falling the way they were early in the series.
If it weren't for the foul line, the point guard would have had one of the worst performances of the night. He shot 9-of-10 from the line but just 2-of-10 from the floor, scoring 13 points to go with his four rebounds and four assists.
On Thursday night, Andre Miller played a similar game to Jack, which shouldn't be surprising, considering the two backcourt players began to resemble each other more and more with each passing game.
Miller took a lot of the same shots he'd taken up to this point; they just weren't falling.
The problem for Denver is that Miller was put in bad situations. He's one of the smartest, craftiest players on the floor every time he plays, but getting him the ball late in the shot clock is a recipe for disaster for any poor three-point shooter.
He scored eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, while missing all four of his three-point attempts.
Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green played an incredibly impressive game off the bench for the Golden State Warriors.
The rookie played with a confidence that was apparent throughout the entire contest, but it was especially obvious as Mark Jackson chose to keep him in the game late. He scored 16 points on 50 percent shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Aside from Green, the only player to contribute was Jarrett Jack, and his struggles were obvious as he continued to throw up miss after miss. Nobody else played more than four minutes, but it was good enough to get into the second round against the Nuggets.
The Denver Nuggets got balanced production out of their second unit in this one, but the problem is that it was consistently inconsistent.
Andre Miller, Kosta Koufos and Corey Brewer combined for 16 points against the Warriors. They grabbed a total of eight rebounds, but their efficiency and energy were outmatched by Golden State's starters and reserves the entire way.
Denver's depth was its best asset all year long, but it just couldn't cut it with the season officially on the line.