(Sports Network) - If up-tempo, high-scoring basketball is your wish, then the
first-round playoff series out west between the Denver Nuggets and Golden
State Warriors might appeal to sensibilities.
The Nuggets led the NBA in scoring and the Warriors were seventh. Neither team
finished in the top 18 in opponents scoring, so points will be aplenty.
Denver set a franchise record with its 57 victories and a 38-3 mark at the
Pepsi Center, which was the best home record in the NBA this season.
"First of all, I would like to thank our fans," Nuggets coach George Karl
said. "I think we have some of the best fans this year, and we stole some
games here at home because their intensity matches our players' intensity."
The Nuggets score and score and score, but they could be in some jeopardy due
Danilo Gallinari, the team's second-leading scorer, tore his ACL in the last
month and is gone.
Ty Lawson, the lightning quick point guard and catalyst for the offense, had a
foot injury, but played in the final games of the regular season.
Kenneth Faried did not. He sprained an ankle and his availability is in
question this series.
That's a lot for a team to overcome, but the Nuggets play a system predicated
on ball movement, fast-breaking and great shooting.
And, the Nuggets enter the postseason the winners of eight of their last nine
The Warriors made the postseason for the first time since the 2006-07 season
when they upset the Dallas Mavericks in the first round as an eight seed.
The strength of Golden State this season lies squarely on the young shoulders
of point guard Steph Curry. Passed over for an All-Star berth, Curry set an
NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a season with 272, breaking Ray Allen's
mark of 269.
"It's special. I grew up watching Ray Allen shoot in shooting drills when he
played with my dad in Milwaukee," said Curry. "I have an appreciation for how
well he shot the ball in his career, and especially that one season."
The Warriors have been an up-and-down team all season, but they started the
season as a playoff team and maintained that status. It has been a positive
campaign for the Warriors.
BACKCOURT: Curry is the league's best shooter. There are statistics and
eyeballs to back that claim. He is the best kind of shooter in that he has a
quick release, can shoot off the dribble, can nail it coming off pick and
rolls and any other conceivable scenario. Now, he also has a spot in the
record book to back it up.
"It's obviously a reflection of Steph's greatness," said Warriors coach Mark
Jackson. "It's a lot of hard work, dedication, commitment, guys getting him
open and executing plays."
Klay Thompson bumped his scoring by four points a game and shoots 40 percent
from 3-point range.
Lawson turned into perhaps the fastest player in the NBA baseline-to-baseline.
Career-highs in points and assists offset a career-low shooting year, but when
Lawson turned his game around after a rough start, the fortunes of the Nuggets
turned. Andre Iguodala is a perfect fit in this system. He is asked to defend
as always, but streaking to the hoop for easy buckets is what Iguodala was put
on this Earth to do.
EDGE: NUGGETS (slightly)
FRONTCOURT: David Lee made the All-Star team and led the NBA with 56 double-
doubles, which was eight more than L.A.'s Dwight Howard in second. Harrison
Barnes is a rookie who played admirably, but didn't shake the Earth and the
center spot was supposed to be manned by Andrew Bogut, but the Aussie has
battled nagging injuries. He did play in the season finale.
Faried is one of the most dynamic bigs in the league. He is the only Nugget
with more than a fleeting interest in defense and rebounding. The Gallinari
injury hurt the Nuggets, but Wilson Chandler averaged 20.1 ppg over the last
six of the season. Kosta Koufos is their center and not much of a scorer or
BENCH: The Warriors finished 19th in bench scoring, but boast a legitimate
Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Jarrett Jack. He averaged almost 13 ppg and
Carl Landry is a fringe award possibility. After those two, there isn't much
The Nuggets were second in the league in bench scoring. Chandler came off the
pine most of the season and Andre Miller is just a strong, capable NBA point
guard. Corey Brewer averaged double figures as a reserve and JaVale McGee
scored 9.1 ppg. This group is as strong a unit as there is in the league and
they need to be with Denver playing such a frenetic pace.
COACHING: Jackson did an admirable job this season bringing the Warriors back
into relativity again. He's got a solid rotation down pat.
Karl is a Coach of the Year candidate and one of the best in the league. He is
playoff-tested and been to the NBA Finals twice while at the helm of the
PREDICTION: This matchup looks more intriguing than it is. The Nuggets are
unstoppable at home and more than capable of winning once in Oakland, which
they did earlier this season.
The Warriors can win a game or two, but aren't a real threat in this series.
Curry and Thompson are unproven in the postseason and Denver is a better
SPORTS NETWORK PREDICTION: NUGGETS in 5.
The Sports Network