The Nuggets may not have a star player, but they have a roster loaded with guys that can bring it with the best of 'em on any given night. In Game 1 against Golden State, that was Andre Miller, who powered Denver throughout the game before punctuating the performance with a game-winning layup just before the buzzer. It sealed a 97-95 win over the Golden State Warriors in their first-round playoff series.
It was an incredible effort for Miller, who looked very much in control as the elder statesman on the team. He finished the game with 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting and five assists in 27 minutes.
With the Nuggets lacking big man Kenneth Faried, taking advantage of the team's lack of depth in the post was supposed to be Golden State's plan. Instead, Denver got strong rebounding efforts from Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala while pressuring the Warriors inside.
That left Golden State to frequently depend on the shooting of Stephen Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson. As good as those players are, that pressure was substantial playing the franchise's first playoff game in six years against one of the league's most dominant home teams.
Playing in his first-ever postseason contest, Curry filled his role as distributor but couldn't get his own shots to fall. For arguably the best shooter in the league, a 7-for-20 shooting performance was a disappointment. He still did some good things, dishing nine assists in addition to scoring 19 points. He also hit a game-tying three right before Miller's game-winner.
The Nuggets led 28-25 after the first quarter as the offense found some rhythm while Curry stayed quiet. Failing to make a single field goal, Curry had just one point in the first 12 minutes as his back-up, Jarrett Jack, proved to be the engine behind the offense early.
Jack didn't have a great game for the Warriors, but his effort in the first quarter was key to keeping the crowd out of it early. Coming off the bench, the Sixth Man of the Year candidate scored eight of his 10 points in just five minutes, including the final six points of the period for Golden State.
Playing at their usual frenzied pace, the Nuggets were able to get some easy baskets early, but sloppiness led to turnovers and tougher shots as the first half progressed. At one point, Denver missed nine consecutive field goals before an Andre Iguodala post-up led to a challenged layup.
Those rare offensive struggles — Denver had more turnovers (nine) than assists (six) in the first two quarters — allowed Golden State to take a 48-44 lead into halftime despite the lack of production from Curry, who finished the first half with four points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The tone of the game changed drastically in the second half. Though Curry was able to find his stroke a bit, knocking down his only three shots in the third quarter, the Nuggets rode the steady play of veteran point guard Andre Miller to a 71-64 lead entering the final period.
Once All-Star forward David Lee left the game with an apparent right hip flexor strain and Denver expanded its lead to nine points early in the fourth quarter, it appeared that Golden State was done for the night. Still, the team battled, tying the game at 81 with about seven minutes remaining and keeping it close until the end.
The Warriors had a chance to take the lead in the final minute, but Ty Lawson wrestled the ball away from Curry and finished with a layup on the other end to extend Denver's lead. Golden State eventually tied the game on a big shot from Curry, but Miller came through before the buzzer to avoid overtime.
The remainder of Denver's scoring was quite balanced, as Lawson, Corey Brewer, Chandler and Evan Fournier all cracked double-digits but none scored more than 12 points. Klay Thompson was Golden State's leading scorer with 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
With the win, the Nuggets improve their record at home this season to 39-3, including the regular season. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.