Tight series between Nuggets and Warriors is no surprise

Denver and Golden State continuing what they started in regular season
by Aaron Lopez

SAN FRANCISCO – In retrospect, two nights in November simply foreshadowed the future.

Playing one another for the first time during the regular season, the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors staged an entertaining duel that ended when Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala hit back-to-back 3-pointers to lift the Nuggets to a 107-101 double-overtime win on Nov. 10.

Less than three weeks later, the Warriors survived in regulation when Iguodala’s long jumper was waved off following a video review that showed the ball left his hand a split-second after the buzzer.

Their first-round playoff series has been no different.

With the exception of Golden State’s 14-point win in Game 2, the Warriors and Nuggets have played to a deadlock through the first three games. Denver won by two in Game 1 and lost by two in Game 3.

Game 4 is Sunday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

“I think the series is competitive series,” Nuggets coach George Karl said Saturday. “It’s not lopsided. It’s not time for radical panic decision-making. It’s time to play a little bit better, get a little bit more together, find some more confidence and do the little things that win playoff games – like get loose balls and make extra passes and play tougher defense.”

Though trailing 2-1 in the series, the Nuggets believe they have a better understanding of how to attack the Warriors at both ends of the court.

They caused problems defensively in Game 3 with their aggressive trapping, forcing 23 turnovers, and Golden State had few answers for Ty Lawson’s dribble penetration. Lawson scored a playoff career-high 35 points and added 10 assists.

“We did some great things,” Denver forward Wilson Chandler said. “If we can build on that and stay physical with them, we have a great chance to win the next game.”

Ideally, the Nuggets would like to return to Denver with home-court advantage stored in the overhead compartment, but they also know that the series is far from over if Golden State holds serve at home.

“With home court, when you lose Game 2, you have three shots to get it back,” Karl said. “I think my team will be confident at home. We want to win the next three. That’s the dream. Win tomorrow, go home and win another one and hopefully they get frustrated and we get the momentum on our side and win Game 6.

Down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Lakers last spring, Denver won Game 5 on the road, Game 6 at home and had a lead in the fourth quarter of Game 7 before falling short in the final minutes.

After earning the No. 3 seed in the West during the regular season, the schedule is in Denver’s favor this time around.

“We were down 3-1 to L.A., where you have the opposite scenario, and I didn’t think my team was that shaken by the moment,” Karl said. “I don’t think we’re going to be shaken by the moment (Sunday).”

There certainly weren’t any signs of resignation during a film session and light workout Saturday at the Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco.

Corey Brewer, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos and Quincy Millerengaged in a lively 4-on-4 game against Jordan Hamilton, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph and Julyan Stone. At the other end of the floor, Iguodala, Lawson and Andre Miller worked on their shooting touch and exchanged thoughts on a tough loss in Game 3.

“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure,” Brewer said. “Every game is a must-win. You should take every game like it’s the last game. That’s how I always played whether I was in the playoffs, NCAA Tournament, anything. You always play your next game like it’s your last game. If we don’t win (Sunday), 3-1 is a tough deficit.”