Many criticized the Nuggets for not being aggressive enough during their trip to the Bay Area, and that seemed to change from the opening tip tonight. Denver has done a nice job distributing the ball and getting after it on the defensive end, not allowing the Warriors to have wide open looks from deep. As a team, they're holding Golden State to just 38.5 percent from the field, including 5-of-13 from behind the arc.
Denver has done a nice job using a balanced attack on the offensive end. Wilson Chandler leads the way with 16 points, while Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson each have 11. For the Warriors, Harrison Barnes has been one of the few bright spots with a team-high 13 points.
It seems the Nuggets are well on their way to forcing a sixth game in the series. They'll need to ensure Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and others don't start feeling it from deep, but they've done a nice job thus far.
Prior to Game 5, Rodger Sherman asked a couple of key questions for tonight's game.
1. Can anybody stop Stephen Curry? Is he a real human being?
Curry has singlehandedly broken Denver's heart in this series, averaging 27.2 points a game while hitting shots from everywhere. He's essentially been unguardable, and even accidental eye pokes haven't slowed him down.
So far, Denver has done a much better job defending Curry. He has just six points, going 3-for-9 from the field without a three-pointer. Instead of putting veteran Andre Miller on Curry, coach George Karl has done a nice job switching up his matchups and throwing a few junk defenses at the young sharpshooter. Curry still made an impact with five assists and a few rebounds, but he's been nothing like what he was in previous games.
2. Can the Nuggets finally take advantage of the absence of David Lee?
Many felt the series was over after Lee was ruled out for the rest of the playoffs following Game 1. Golden State has come back in a big way since then, using a smaller lineup to clean up the boards and execute at an alarming rate on offense.
During the first half of Tuesday's game, the Nuggets did a much better job rebounding and getting into the lane. They out-rebounded Golden State by 12, bringing down 11 offensive rebounds as opposed to their four. So far, Denver's done a good job exploiting the absence of Lee, unlike in Games 2, 3 and 4. Look for them to continue attacking the rim in the second half.
3. Can Ty Lawson keep up his good play, but do it in a win?
Lawson has done his part in the series, averaging 23 points and eight assists. The only issue has been him not forcing the issue and willing the Nuggets to victory late in the fourth quarter.
So far, it's been another strong showing for the young point guard. Lawson has a 11 points and a team-high six assists, and he's done a nice job on Curry whenever matched up with him on the defensive end. As long as Lawson continues to play at a high level and keeps setting his teammates up, the Nuggets should cruise in the second half.