After finishing the regular season with 57 wins and the No. 3 seed in the loaded Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets find themselves on the brink of elimination after falling 115-101 to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. The Nuggets will have to win three-straight games to keep their season alive, something that does not look likely considering the defensive issues and turnover woes currently plaguing the team.
Much like they have all series, Denver struggled to hold down a Golden State offense which has been in the zone the last three games. After allowing 95 points in Game 1, the Nuggets have allowed 118.7 points per game in Games 2-4. The Warriors shot 55.7 percent in Game 4, while doing damage from beyond the arc and in the paint. Golden State made 11-of-26 from deep and had 48 points in the paint to just 36 for Denver.
The Nuggets' defense was especially poor in the third quarter of Game 4, giving up 35 points and letting Stephen Curry find his rhythm after a rough first half. Denver aggressively trapped Curry for much of the opening half, but they lost contain on the Warriors' star far too often in the third quarter. Curry scored 22 of his 31 points in the third, turning a close game into a blowout.
Compounding the Nuggets' defensive issues were an abundance of turnovers. Denver turned the ball over 23 times on Sunday, which led to 33 points for Golden State. The turnover problems were at their worst in the second quarter, when the Nuggets coughed it up nine times and allowed the Warriors to build a 56-44 halftime lead.
Nuggets head coach George Karl lamented the poor defense and turnovers after the game, and he said that there have to be some changes if there will be any chance at a comeback in this series.
"In general, the turnovers gave them a lot of easy offensive opportunities," Karl said. "And we had no control of the ball when we did play five-on-five. When we jumped the ball, they got the ball to Bogut and Bogut made good decisions. When we didn't jump the ball, Jack and Curry still had a lot of good control. Controlling the basketball is probably our No. 1 priority going into Tuesday night."
Denver will be back on their home court for Game 5 on Tuesday. The Nuggets have only lost four games at the Pepsi Center all season, so they hope their fortunes will change in front of their fans.
Quote via NBA.com.