The Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets 110-108 last night to take a 2-1 advantage in the series. Game 3 was probably the most exhilarating, stressful, and entertaining game of the series so far, and the Warriors showed the Nuggets why they have such a distinct home-court advantage at Oracle Arena. Even though the Warriors came away with a win, they still made several mistakes and almost gave the game away with about 21.5 seconds left in the game. Here are some takeaways from Game 3:
1. In this series, the Warriors have shown that they can out-shoot, out-rebound and score more second chance points than the Nuggets. However, this series will come down to the Warriors’ turnovers and the Nuggets’ points off those turnovers.
The Warriors committed 23 turnovers in the game. Not only did they play sloppily throughout pretty much the whole game (mostly the first and fourth quarter), the Nuggets scored 30 points off of those turnovers, which is unacceptable, especially in a playoff game.
On the other hand, the Nuggets committed 18 turnovers, and the Warriors scored 19 points off of those turnovers. The Nuggets’ length and athleticism allowed them to be active and get into the Warriors’ passing lanes and force sloppy passes. Denver also thrive when they force turnovers and are able to get into the open court and get easy transition buckets, so the Warriors can’t afford to keep making so many costly mistakes. The turnover discrepancy was the main reason why the Warriors struggled throughout the game.
2. The Warriors’ overall team effort tonight, however, made up for the turnover discrepancy.
When one guy was struggling (for example, Klay Thompson), others stepped up, such as Harrison Barnes, Carl Landry and Draymond Green. Since Thompson played so well in Game 1 and 2, the Nuggets countered his effort by having Andre Iguodala guard Thompson instead of Stephen Curry in Game 3. Because of Iguodala’s defensive prowess, Thompson seriously struggled. He finished the night with only 6 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field and 0-of-5 shooting from the three-point line. He also committed four turnovers.
Because of Thompson’s lack of efficiency in this game, other players had to step up besides Curry, who had 29 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 shooting from the three-point line. Barnes had another great game after his breakout performance in Game 2. His 19 points and seven rebounds made him the first Warrior rookie with 19+ points in consecutive playoff games since Mitch Richmond in 1989. Jarrett Jack also had another huge game with 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting. In addition, Carl Landry was solid with 19 points and five rebounds, and Green, despite fouling out of the game, played solid defense and provided a huge spark off the bench.
3. Stephen Curry is showing why he should’ve been an All-Star this season, not only through his stellar play, but also because of his strength and toughness.
Curry suffered yet another ankle sprain in Game 2, but, this time, to the left ankle. He didn’t practice between games or participate in shootaround, but he received lots of treatment and was able to start Game 3, despite not being at 100 percent. In the regular season, it’s not clear if Curry would’ve started this game. However, in the playoffs, Curry knew his team needed him, he started, and he put on a show. There was no way that Curry was going to miss his first playoff game at home. With his 29 points and 11 assists, Curry became the first Warrior to post consecutive playoff games with at least 25 points and 10 assists. Superstars play through pain and put up their best performances when it’s needed most. Stephen Curry is a superstar, folks.
4. Andrew Bogut can single-handedly change a game in an instant.
Bogut is a fierce competitor, and he battles harder than anyone I’ve seen in a long time. Bogut sets hard screens, isn’t afraid of contact and also isn’t afraid to yell at an opposing player to fire up his teammates. In fact, he was even called for a technical foul in the third quarter after getting into a scuff up with Javale McGee.
In addition to the emotional impact that Bogut can make, he is definitely the solid inside presence and defensive anchor that the Warriors have needed for so long. Bogut is averaging two blocks per game in the postseason, which is fantastic, but his ability to alter shots, provide help defense and prevent opposing players from driving to the basket doesn’t show up in the box score.
Even though the plus-minus stat is a little flawed, Bogut’s +/- for the game was plus-five. When Bogut isn’t in the game, there’s a noticeable decline in the Warriors’ defense. The Warriors need to play defense more consistently though, not just when Bogut is on the floor.
5. The Warriors have shown an ability throughout the season the fight back and never give up in games.
Although it sounds cliché, the Warriors never gave up in this game, and they fought back from a 12-point halftime deficit to win the game. They played sloppily and awfully on defense, giving up 66 points in the first half. However, they made the proper adjustments at halftime and looked more aggressive on both ends of the court in the second half.
Despite amazing performances from Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer, the Warriors found a way to win, even though they weren’t playing their best. These are the kinds of wins that define a team. Playoff teams grind out wins when their backs are against the wall, and they aren’t playing their best basketball. The Warriors had a rough game, but they fought hard to get the win.