Marlowe Blog: What to watch for in Game 2

Adjustments aplenty for Nuggets and Warriors as playoff series continues
by Aaron Lopez

It takes 16 victories in the playoffs to win the NBA Championship.

For the Denver Nuggets, one down 15 more to go.

Saturday’s victory over the Golden State Warriors was the Nuggets’ first in a playoff series opener since 2010 – and it was sweet.

The Mile High Crew beat a good Golden State team, despite playing without two of its best players, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. Not many teams in the NBA could have accomplished that.

Of course, not many teams have a player like Andre Miller, who scored 28 points – 18 in the fourth quarter – and made the first game-winning shot of his basketball career!

Now, let’s look ahead to Game 2 on Tuesday night.

As you may have heard, the Warriors will be without All Star forward David Lee, who left Saturday’s game and was later diagnosed with a torn hip flexor muscle. He is done for the season.

Replacing 18 points, 11 rebounds and a league-leading 56 double doubles won’t be easy.
I expect Golden State coach Mark Jackson to start Carl Landry for Lee and then dust off seldom-used Richard Jefferson.

Jefferson, once a terrific player, has fallen out of favor in the Bay Area, garnering an average of 10 minutes of play in 56 games. He had 19 DNP-CDs and missed another seven games with a calf injury.

But beware: RJ is a career 15-point-per-game scorer, a career 37 percent 3-point shooter and went to the NBA finals twice with the J-Kidd, K-Mart New Jersey Nets. He could be the Warriors wild card on Tuesday.

Also, expect the Warriors to play more zone defense in Game 2. While not a great zone, a la Syracuse, it did bother Denver and slow the pace to a crawl.

Watch for Denver coach George Karl to adjust and put Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer at the foul line on offense. From there, they can attack the middle and make plays. It would also help if the Nuggets can shoot better than 3-for-16 from 3-point range.

The Nuggets did a great job of covering Stephen Curry in the series opener, holding him to 18 points on 7-of-20 shooting. I expect this to continue. Curry, while a terrific shooter, doesn’t drive and finish. As a defender, you can use that fact to cover him tightly and run him off the 3-point line.

A big concern for Denver in game one was rebounding. The good guys were out-boarded 55-45, and a whopping 16-6 in the crucial fourth quarter.

That should change in Game 2 when Faried returns to the lineup.

Manimal is not only Denver’s best rebounder, but he shoots 55 percent from the field and has 31 double doubles and 113 blocks.

He also has an inspirational spirit that is a big part of the Nuggets “teamness.”

So, Tuesday night, the Denver Nuggets will attempt to take another step in the right direction.

Hopefully, after the game is over, it will be two down, 14 to go.

Chris Marlowe is in his ninth year as the play-by-play voice for the Nuggets on Altitude. He is a longtime broadcaster who also served as the captain of the gold media-winning U.S. Olympic volleyball team in 1984.