- Tip Off: 7:30 PM PT
- Television: TNT (national), CSN-BA (local), SNET1 (Canada)
Denver Nuggets Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 104.1 (7th in NBA playoffs)
- Defensive Efficiency: 109.8 (15th in NBA playoffs)
Scope the Opposition: Roundball mining Company.
Preview: Closeout games are difficult.
In Game 5, the Denver Nuggets came out at home with tons of energy and played like a group that simply did not want their season to end. For the first time in this series, it felt as though they knew their identity.
The Nuggets dominated the paint, won the turnover margin and finally seized control of the rebounding battle. Except perhaps for the turnovers, everyone expected Denver to control these facets from the opening game of their first round matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
Lo and behold, George Karl finally got his team playing to its strength in the fifth game of the series. His team has the size and the athletes, but the Warriors have been seemingly a step ahead for most of the series in terms of energy plays until Game 5.
The Dubs had been the more physical and tougher team after four contests.
With that said, let’s not get carried away with this narrative either. With roughly five minutes left in Game 5, Golden State was well within striking distance. If not for a few horrendous moving screens — three of them — down the stretch, the Warriors might very well have earned themselves a second round berth.
Also, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson missed two wide-open looks from 3-point range late that would have put tremendous pressure on Karl’s unit to execute with their season hanging in the balance.
This is incredibly pertinent.
The Warriors lost most of the categories they had been winning in this series and still came away with an opportunity to steal the game.
The reason for this is simple: execution.
An argument could be made that so far in the playoffs, Mark Jackson’s group has done a better job of executing their offense and finding the shots they want. Indeed, if there is one lasting image in this series, it’s the one of Curry and Thompson firing away open shots from downtown.
Jackson has orchestrated this by using some of Denver’s tactics against them. Jared Dubin over a Hoopchalk did a fantastic job of breaking down the double pick-and-roll Golden State has used to free up Curry from the trap:
For much of this series, and especially since David Lee went out in Game 1, the Nuggets have been trapping Stephen Curry as he comes around the screen on pick-and-rolls. To give him a little extra space, the Warriors send an extra screener here on this play.
It stands to reason the Dubs will continue with this strategy all the while mixing and matching based on whatever Karl throws at Golden State.
With that said, execution alone won’t be sufficient. With a second round date with the San Antonio Spurs on the line, the Warriors need an abundance of energy plays.
Whether that comes in the rebounding or turnover department, winning at least one of these areas is almost mandatory at this point.
One of two things will await the Warriors after tonight: Game 7 in Denver or Game 1 in San Antonio. The result is up to them…
Quick note: no postgame reactions (grades) tonight.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].