No sweep for the Nuggets! Mike Malone’s men avoided direct elimination by narrowly winning against the Californians, against whom they had to fight a big battle. They will thus try to further reduce their delay in a few days, during Game 5 in San Francisco.
Barely a minute of play and already a tough exchange between Aaron Gordon and Draymond Green, after a foul by the latter on the face of Nikola Jokic. Double technical fault for the first two cities. As you will have understood, this fourth round did not take long to feel the powder. The Nuggets, who nevertheless suffered the address of Klay Thompson (quickly embarrassed by the faults) in the first moments, clearly raised the level of intensity on the physical level to defend strongly (31% of the Warriors, their worst quarter -time of the series). Well helped by the awkwardness of the “6th man” opposite, Stephen Curry, the locals relied on attacking a Nikola Jokic still untenable in the racket, but also three points in “trailer”.
Turning slightly in the lead after twelve minutes (26-21), the Colorado players counted on a much more efficient bench than that of the visitors. In addition to an active DeMarcus Cousins in the racket (still sanctioned with a questionable technical fault…), the crazy dribbler Bones Hyland signed a small festival with three consecutive award-winning baskets to offer the biggest advantage of the match to his team (40 -23). The Nuggets suffered more with the return of most starters. Without panicking, Golden State found serenity in attack with Andrew Wiggins. The shooters of the Warriors being little at the party, Jonathan Kuminga was also able to speak about his athletic qualities to contribute to the return of the Californians. The latter still finished more than 10 points (63-52) from Nikola Jokic (22 points), his very active lieutenant, Aaron Gordon, and the Nuggets at the break.
The Splash brothers and Monte Morris heat up
Klay Thompson had a start to the second period of fire at three points and halfway, but a man, so far discreet, was responsible for answering him: Monte Morris. The point guard converted five three-pointers in the third period without ever missing the target. A crazy address that will allow Denver to maintain its lead despite the good sequences of Draymond Green, comfortable in “coast to coast” or to serve Stephen Curry on the “backdoor”. With its 7/12 behind the arc in this quarter, Denver remained in the lead but still under threat from the Warriors (98-89).
And particularly the “Splash Brothers” because Stephen Curry, struggling with his shooting until then, joined his lifelong companion, Klay Thompson, on the way to address. With a “3 + 1”, he brought his team to just two possessions (104-98), while DeMarcus Cousins hurt Andre Iguodala on the other side of the field. A little jumper from Aaron Gordon to give Denver a ten-point lead? Response on the heels of Klay Thompson three-pointer. A few minutes later, despite the release of a very good Draymond Green for six fouls, the visitors equalized on a new exploit by Stephen Curry (119-119).
The latter returned a long two-point shot quickly erased by Nikola Jokic, then Monte Morris. With another decisive defensive move from Austin Rivers, Denver found itself with the cards in hand to conclude. What Nikola Jokic did to serve the almost ghostly Will Barton in the corner for the “dagger”.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– Nikola Jokic’s lieutenants responded. Aaron Gordon, who hampered Jordan Poole a lot in defense, quickly found his feet and made his athletic qualities speak to cause a bunch of whistles. We appreciated his high post – low post relationship with the Serbian pivot. Behind the handyman of the five of the Nuggets, the MVP in title found the support of Monte Morris, exceptional of address in the third quarter. A few men from the bench also contributed. We think for example of Austin Rivers and his five interceptions.
– The physical dimension. This match started around 9:30 p.m. (French time) and ended later than usual. The fault with a game often chopped by the physical dimension established by the actors who, as a result, committed a lot of faults. These numerous contacts, coupled with a few distributed technical fouls or Draymond Green’s permanent high verb, illustrated a very high intensity and level of commitment in this part.
– Being down 3-1, the Nuggets know. Seeing Denver now leading 3-1, it’s hard not to remember the 2020 journey in the Orlando “bubble” where the Nuggets had twice overcome such a gap, against the Jazz then against the Clippers. The big difference is that they hadn’t lost their first three matches in the series. ” The odds are stacked against us, but we’ve done it many times before, so why not? “Nevertheless smiled Nikola Jokic at the end of the meeting.
✅ Nikola Jokic. Apart from his seven lost balls, not much to take away from the match of the pivot who shone as much by his physical power as his finesse at the finish. End of series however for him who remained on ten matches in a row ended in double-double.
✅ The “Splash Brothers”. With his fourth foul conceded at the very end of the first period, Klay Thompson could look gloomy. First weighed down by these worries of faults, the rear fully made its external address speak in the second half. Clumsy to start, including on the free throw line surprisingly, Stephen Curry imitated him well in the last act. Mike Malone has in any case succeeded in his bet of cutting off one of Cerberus’ heads because Jordan Poole, on the other hand, missed out on the address level.
⛔ Warriors bench. If we do not consider Stephen Curry as a substitute as such, and if we remove the good passage of Jonathan Kuminga in the first period, who did not replay in the second, the bench of the Warriors brought almost nothing. It’s the exact opposite of that of the Nuggets, many of whose representatives finished with a very nice +/- column.
Game 5: in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 27.