If the Denver Nuggets are going to do the impossible and win three straight games against the Golden State Warriors to advance to the semifinals of the NBA playoffs, they have to try and mirror the way they played during the regular season. If the team can get the crowd going early and every player plays with obvious intensity, the Nuggets should come out on top Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.
During the regular season, the Nuggets were the best team at home going 38-3. However, the last game they played at home in this series against the Warriors they allowed 131 points and lost the game by 14. Golden State has been the better team thus far, and if the Nuggets are going to make it a competitive series they need to start showing up defensively.
Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee have pretty much been non-factors at the center position this series, and Coach George Karl had them both start on the bench in game four. They need to do better defensively against Andrew Bogut and become a bigger presence in the paint. Kenneth Faried doesn’t seem to be quite the Manimal he once was, and if he doesn’t show up on the boards for Denver, the team’s season will once again be cut short. Faried and Bogut have developed a little animosity and playing at home, Faried needs to feed off this battle and show the Warriors the series isn’t over yet.
Stephen Curry has been playing lights-out and his intensity has passed on to the rest of his team, while the Nuggets on the other hand are playing sloppy with and without the ball. With the dominating play of the Warriors, it seems as though they were the higher seed coming into these playoffs.
Coach Karl may give some more playing time to Julyan Stone in game five as he was fairly effective matching up against Curry in the last minutes of game four. He must provide a defensive presence against Curry in order to try and prevent him from getting his team going offensively.
Energy and intensity are what the Nuggets need Tuesday night, and if they win, who knows, they might come back and force a game seven. Game six will be a tough one in Oakland, but the Nuggets have shown they can string wins together. The team fought hard for home-court advantage, and it would be a shame if it didn’t even come into account in a series against the sixth seed.
The whole Nuggets team will need to play with intensity and energy in the rest of their games this postseason. Avoiding turnovers, forcing turnovers, getting behind the defense, and not letting them get behind theirs for easy baskets is essential if the team is going to pull off a comeback. The home crowd in Denver needs to be as loud as the fans in Oakland, making it difficult for Curry and company to concentrate and focus.
The playoffs are a different game and the Nuggets have yet to adapt to the changes of style. Hopefully there will be a raging playoff atmosphere for the team in game five and they will remember how to play their game. A game of pace and energy that relies on every individual to provide for the team.