And there you have it folks, the first loss of the postseason for your Golden State Warriors. The Dubs failed to sweep the sixth seeded Denver Nuggets after falling 126-121 on the road in Game 4. This game provided some wonderful lessons for a new Warriors group trying to learn how to win when the stakes are highest.
Denver’s home crowd was in playoff form, willing their guys on by showering them with tremendous love and booing the hell out of the Warriors.
The derision they rained on Golden State exacerbated the little annoying predicaments the Dubs found themselves in, like:
Greatest shooter of all time Stephen Curry missing four free throws (two in a row at one point!)."This is just one of those freaky games." Mully isn't worried about Steph missing four free throw shots
Their veteran defensive anchors getting jammed up with foul trouble. Draymond Green fouled out, Klay Thompson had four by halftime and finished with five, and Andre Iguodala had five fouls in 13 minutes.
The Warriors’ bench was a combined -51 plus/minus (yes that includes Curry who played 37 minutes as a reserve).
There’s also that heavily criticized decision to run this lob play for Andrew Wiggins with the sweep on the line:
Denver took advantage of Golden State’s mistakes and made them pay, lighting up GSW’s defense for 56% shooting from the field while nailing 15-of-31 of their attempts from beyond the arc. They pushed their lead as high as 17. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic put on a masterclass in big man basketball, causing havoc for the Dubs with his scoring and passing.
Jokic drew so much attention that the Warriors would get stuck in the mud on their rotations and leave a corner shooter enough of an open window to drill a triple.
All that…and the Nuggets BARELY survived against these Warriors. I really thought the Dubs were going to pull this win out no matter how large the deficit ballooned because they kept clawing back with bloodthirsty intentions. Curry went nuclear in the fourth quarter for 15 of his 33 points. Thompson was a red-hot 7-of-11 from deep on his way to 32 points. This was damn near a vintage Splash Bro performance.
Draymond Green tallied 13 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals while keeping the Warriors’ intensity high by barking at opponents, referees, and fans. Can you imagine what it must have been like for Golden State’s young guys in their first closeout game, surrounded by all that noise, watching Green stand tall and roar back? That’s a true warrior spirit.
And Wiggins was a key factor with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting with 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He was their leading scorer at halftime with 14 points and kept the wheels from falling off when the Nuggets were trying to run away from the Dubs early.
ALL FOR NAUGHT. Wellp, looks like the Dubs just gotta make this sweep gentlemanly and get it done at home in San Francisco.
For your viewing pleasure, let’s hand it over to Curry and Iguodala for a Compliment Battle.
> Thompson attempted 5.9 shots per game after two or more dribbles in his 32 regular-season games. He’s reduced that to 1.8 in four playoff games.
> More than 70 percent of Thompson’s playoff shot attempts have come within two seconds of touching the basketball. That was down at 63.2 percent in the regular season.
> Nearly 25 percent of Thompson’s makes in the regular season were unassisted. In the playoffs, only 13 percent of his makes have been unassisted.
> If you cut up Thompson’s offensive pie, only 36.8 percent of his regular-season attempts were catch-and-shoot 3s, his most dangerous tool. In the playoffs, he’s upped that to 49.8 percent. He’s taking 8.5 of them per game against Denver.
And I'm sorry, but the difference now is proper role and improved conditioning, not Klay deciding not to be a selfish egomaniac who is jealous of Poole's success. Always gotta be careful with the psychoanalysis stuff when physical explanations are available. Regardless, his current level of play is inspiring given his last few years.
Hey everyone, I haven’t been following basketball since the experts made their pre-season predictions. Are will still headed to an inevitable Nets-Lakers finals?