The Golden State Warriors fought back from a rough first half on Friday night to come back and take Game 3 from the Denver Nuggets. They now have a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Sunday night at home.
By no means did the Warriors play flawless basketball. They turned the ball over a glaring 23 times and the Nuggets mustered those 23 miscues into easy 30 points. But on the same token, the Warriors turned the Nuggets’ 18 team turnovers into 19 points.
Turnovers were a big story, and ball protection will be an area that both teams will look to improve in Game 4. Turnovers weren’t the telling story, though.
The Warriors dominated the Nuggets on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 42-34, which brings up an interesting tidbit of information.
KEY STAT of the series so far … The #Warriors have a +28 rebounding advantage, winning the BATTLE on the boards in each of the 3 games.
— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) April 27, 2013
Denver’s massive size advantage was a worn out talking point before the series began. It then became an even more discussed topic when David Lee tore his right hip flexor and was announced out for the remainder of the playoffs. Not only can head coach George Karl opt to play two seven-footers on the floor simultaneously–Javale McGee and Kosta Koufos– but Kenneth Faried is a relentless force, and Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala have the size advantage over Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson.
But the size advantage of the Nuggets hasn’t shown yet.
Harrison Barnes certainly wasn’t overmatched by a defensive combination of Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala:
Barnes with 19 pts to go w/ 7 rebounds becomes first Warrior rookie with 19+ points in consecutive playoff gms since Mitch Richmond in 1989 — #GSWStats (@gswstats) April 27, 2013
And Stephen Curry, despite a wobbly left ankle, scored 29 points and 11 assists, which was also a stat line for the record books.
With 29 pts and 11 asts, Stephen Curry becomes first Warrior to post consecutive playoff games with at least 25-pts and 10-asts — #GSWStats (@gswstats) April 27, 2013
The Nuggets’ attention on defense was evidently on Curry from the get-go. And really, that wasn’t a surprise.
Rarely was Curry able to manuever around the perimeter without being trapped by multiple defenders. Usually a guard and a bigger forward would come over to start the trap, and Curry would be forced to pass over the top.
Karl’s scheme to make Curry work did go as plan, as Curry wasn’t able to take an open shot without someone jumping at him. But Curry still has the requisite skills to completely collapse with more pressure. Probably more important, Curry didn’t cough up the ball.
Curry taking care of the ball with 24 asts against 4 TOs for 6:1 assist/turnover ratio over the past two games — #GSWStats (@gswstats) April 27, 2013
Andrew Bogut, whose efforts didn’t show up in the box score, served as a big target for Curry to pass to when he was trapped. In turn, the Karl withdrew his sneaky scheme because the Warriors eventually got to the point where they easily broke it down with sharp passes.
Aside from Curry, Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, Golden State’s two notable offseason additions, scored 42 of the Warriors’ 110 points. Jack did commit seven turnovers, but he compensated for those mistakes with 23 points and seven assists.
Jack with 20+ pts in consecutive playoff gms for first time in his career finishing with 23 pts to go with 7 asts and 5 rebs
— #GSWStats (@gswstats) April 27, 2013
After the Nuggets went on a 13-2 run to end the first half, the Warriors made a handful of defensive adjustments and eventually buckled down to win the game in the fourth quarter. In short, they beat the Nuggets at their own game, nearly notching them with 15 fastbreak points, beating them on the glass and beating them with 19 points in the paint.