The Golden State Warriors beat the Denver Nuggets 118-113 on Thursday night to grab a 3-0 series lead. Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole both scored 27 points, Klay Thompson hit six 3-pointers on route to 26 points, and the Warriors took a 3-0 series lead.
In the last minute, Draymond Green added a crucial steal from Nikola Jokic, who ended with 37 points and 18 rebounds, as the Warriors went on a 9-2 run to put the Nuggets on the verge of elimination.
The Golden State Warriors have a chance to win the series on Sunday in Denver. In an NBA playoff series, teams who are behind 3-0 are 0-143.
The Nuggets led for most of the second half, but the Warriors tightened up on defence after Jokic’s finger roll layup put Denver up 111-109 with 3:20 remaining.
By the time Will Barton’s tip-in with 23 seconds remaining drew Denver within 117-113, Golden State had the game in hand.
The Nuggets carried an 89-87 lead into the fourth quarter but fell for the sixth consecutive playoff game. Aaron Gordon scored 18 points.
After losing the first two games by an average of 18 points, Nuggets coach Michael Malone complained before the game that his squad hadn’t been aggressive, physical, or vocal throughout the series, so he placed Facundo Campazzo into his rotation.
“When you’re a little bit undermanned, like we are,” Malone said, “you have to be extra physical, incredibly aggressive, and take the battle to them.”
Campazzo wasn’t the solution, but the Nuggets came out of halftime with newfound vigour, scoring 30 points in the third quarter to take a two-point lead into the fourth.
Golden State led 69-59 at halftime after the Nuggets missed their last four shots of the first half. Curry scored a 3-pointer and a three-point play to extend Golden State’s advantage.
The Nuggets understood they had to slow down because they couldn’t keep up with the Warriors without their best players, Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back).
Malone said, “We’re in a Pinto, and they’re in a Maserati.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr laughed at the comparison, stating that he had never owned either model.
He said, “I’m in the middle.”
However, after missing the playoffs the previous two seasons, there’s no doubting his club is revved up.
“I believe we’ve been re-energized in certain respects,” Kerr said. “Before I arrived, we had been on a lengthy run.” There was a lot of exhaustion at that time, mental and physical fatigue, after seven consecutive years in the playoffs and five visits to the Finals.
We haven’t made the playoffs in the previous two years, and it was extremely obvious to tell and feel that way.
“From the folks who have been here a long time, I get the impression that they are overjoyed to be back.” As a result, they’re playing with a lot of vigour and intensity.”