Warriors Archive: Looking Back on the Warriors-Nuggets 2013 First Round Playoff Series

Established 1946 | 7-time NBA Champions

Before the Warriors won three NBA Championships in four seasons and before Stephen Curry was an All-Star or an MVP, there was the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

The Warriors were making their first playoff appearance since the 2007 ‘We Believe’ team, and they went into the postseason as the No. 6 seed (47-35), taking on a Denver Nuggets (57-25) team that had won 23 of their final 26 regular season games. The Warriors entered the playoffs as an exciting, yet unproven, team with what then Head Coach Mark Jackson proclaimed – controversially at the time – as the greatest shooting backcourt in NBA history, while the Nuggets boasted a team with a solid mix of youth and experience that won 23-straight games on their home court.

Curry and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson were making their playoff debuts, as was a rookie forward off the bench named Draymond Green, and by the time the Warriors won the series 4-2, each of those three franchise cornerstones would have made their mark on a series that transitioned the team from the ‘We Believe’ era to a ‘We Belong’ chapter that eventually led to multiple championships.

During that journey, Curry, a fourth-year guard in 2013 who averaged a then career- best 22.9 points and 6.3 assists during the regular season, emerged on the national playoff stage. He had demonstrated that show-stopping ability during the regular season with a 54-point game at Madison Square Garden and he broke the NBA single-season 3-pointers record – for the first time – with 272 treys, and that ascension continued into his first playoffs.

Even though Curry’s game-tying 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in Game 1 would become a footnote after Denver veteran guard Andre Miller caught fire in the fourth quarter and delivered a game-winning shot in the final seconds, the Dubs sent a message in that initial playoff defeat that they were up for the challenge with the heavily favored Nuggets.

Down 1-0 in the series and without David Lee, the Warriors’ lone All-Star in 2013 who suffered a torn right hip flexor in Game 1, the Warriors took the momentum they established in that initial defeat and ran with it in Game 2. Curry played through a sprained left ankle suffered in the second quarter and tallied 30 points and 13 assists, the first 30-and-10 game by a Warrior in the playoffs since the ‘Sleepy Floyd is Superman’ game in 1987. Curry knocked down four 3-pointers and Klay Thompson connected on five of his six three-point attempts as the Warriors shot 65 percent from the floor in the win.

“You talk about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, in my opinion, they're the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game,” Coach Jackson said following the game.

Game 3 brought the series back to Oakland, where Dub Nation quickly re-established Oracle Arena as one of the greatest playoff environments in professional sports, six years after the Warriors’ last playoff run with the ‘We Believe’ team. And the home crowd had plenty to cheer for, as the Warriors rallied back from a 13-point deficit with an exhilarating third quarter flurry, something that would become a staple of the team for years to come.

A tight one to the end, Andre Iguodala – then with the Nuggets – narrowly missed a half-court runner as time expired, and the Warriors held on for the 110-108 win to take a 2-1 series advantage. Curry finished with 29 points and 11 assists, and big games from veterans Jarrett Jack (23 points, seven assists) and Carl Landry (19 points), as well as rookie Harrison Barnes (19 points), helped the Dubs surge ahead in the series.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jarrett Jack said after the game in reference to the crowd noise being so loud, players sometimes couldn’t hear the referee’s whistle on the floor.

The Warriors’ home crowd would once again reach that fever pitch in Game 4, when Stephen Curry scored 22 of his 31 points in the third quarter, including five 3-pointers in the period.

"I don't know what happened,” Curry said after the 115-101 win in Game 4. “Something kicked in there."

Buoyed by another third quarter outburst, the sixth-seeded Warriors headed back to Denver with a 3-1 series advantage. The Nuggets, however, wouldn’t surrender in Game 5, as they rode a 25-point game from Iguodala and held off a late Warriors comeback attempt in the 107-100 win that otherwise might be remembered for accusations of overly physical play from both sides.

This brought the series back to Oakland, giving the Warriors a chance to close out the series at home. Curry once again came through with a third quarter splash party, hitting four treys and scoring 14 points in the period. David Lee provided an emotional lift with a brief appearance in the game after it was thought he’d miss the rest of the postseason with his torn hip flexor, and fellow big Andrew Bogut (14 points, 21 rebounds) had his best game of the series. The same can be said for Draymond Green, who posted his first double-double of his career with 16 points and 10 rebounds, foreshadowing his reputation as a big-game player that he’d prove time and again over the next several years.

The Dubs held an 18-point advantage in the fourth quarter, but Denver rallied over the final nine minutes of the game and the Warriors had several turnovers in the final minutes to allow the Nuggets to get within two in the final 30 seconds. But a pair of Jarrett Jack free throws with seven seconds left gave the Dubs the cushion they needed in their series-clinching 92-88 win.

After Curry led the way with averages of 24.3 points and 9.3 assists in the six-game series, the Warriors would run into a more experienced NBA Finals-bound Spurs team in the conference semifinals. Curry and Thompson delivered some brilliant performances early on in that series, but the Dubs would eventually fall in six games. The playoff experience gained by the young Warriors core, however, would soon prove to be valuable, as two years later the Dubs would begin a stretch of five straight trips to the NBA Finals resulting in three NBA Championships.

"It will take a minute to realize the accomplishments we have made, for a Warriors team to be in this position, it's a good thing, and we can build on this," Curry said.