It’s been six days since David Lee’s injury, and because the Warriors performed so brilliantly without him, almost all of the Warrior fans have forgotten that it ever happened. Unfortunately for the Dubs, Lee’s injury won’t be forgotten, and at some point in this series, or the next, it’s going to come back and haunt them. Lee will be sitting on the bench with his head down, longing to be on the court with this teammates to help, but it’s just not going to happen.
Right now, however, the Warriors are looking to gain a 3-1 stranglehold on the series by winning their two home games. This is definitely within reach, as the Nuggets finished just 19-22 on the road. Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry, however, have no idea what kind of ambitious home crowd they’re going home to. If you’re going to the game, you might want to bring some ear plugs!
In the playoffs, however, it’s not about the home crowd, and how loud they can be at any given point in the game. A good team, like Denver, will zone out the screaming crowd of the opponents, and focus on the basket and the ball. The Nuggets are capable of besting the Warriors in their own building, but it’s not something that they’re looking forward too. As one would imagine, teams that are 38-3 at home in the regular season like to play at home, not on the road.
This is why the whole series comes down to coaching. Before last season, when the Warriors hired an ESPN analyst as a coach, people criticized the decision. Now, they’re probably regretting and basking in the glory of a winning basketball team. Mark Jackson is one of the candidates for coach of the year, and has been instrumental in turning the franchise around. In game two, the Warriors out-shot their opponents, out-rebounded their opponents, and torched their defense, all without their leading rebounder and second leading scorer. If you ask me, that’s some damn good coaching.
Knowing George Karl, the coach, however, he’s going to come back with something brilliant. Last game, Jackson tricked Carl by starting three guards, a small forward, and one center. The small unit proved to be very successful, as 4/5 starters scored over 20 points. At first, it was a joke, but then Jackson actually thought about fighting fire with fire, as the Nuggets also start a shooting guard in Wilson Chandler at power forward.
The Nuggets and their coaching staff know how the Dubs work. Yes, Stephen Curry can shoot the ball very well. Yes, Klay Thompson can shoot and defend. Yes, Harrison Barnes is up and coming. Yes, Andrew Bogut is almost completely solid in the paint. The Nuggets know all of these things, but the way that Mark Jackson found ways to still utilize these weapons shows his flash of brilliance as a coach.
Karl is a fine coach himself, but he wasn’t able to foresee Jacksons’ trick. I’m sure it had him stunned for a little bit, but Karl never really could find a defensive unit to stop the Dubs. The Warriors utilized their mismatches, they attacked the basket, and Stephen Curry drilled his open shots. Defensively, they put Klay Thompson on whoever was doing the most damage. I’m sure the Warrior players don’t have quite as high of a basketball IQ to think of these things. It ALL comes down to coaching in this one.