Coach Nick did a great job of breaking down the Golden State Warriors 131-117 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game Two of the 2013 NBA Playoffs in the video above, with a focus on what went wrong for Denver defensively.
I'll have some additional thoughts on this game later, but here are a few of the things that stood out in Coach Nick's breakdown that I had been thinking as well.
- Andrew Bogut's presence on defense is making a major difference in this matchup. He reads the floor extremely well, shuts down driving lanes and gets boards. Against a team like Denver that thrives on slashing to the basket in a somewhat unstructured offense, he's making a bigger impact than even his impressive numbers suggest.
- Andre Miller was not only neutralized defensively, but he actually hurt Denver on both ends. Common sense could've told you that Miller was not going to have a repeat of the performance he had in Game One and that was actually one of the things that gave me hope for Game Two. The Warriors did a great job of making sure that he didn't torch them again.
- The Warriors just hit a lot of really tough shots. You can say what you want about Denver's defense possession to possession - and as both Mike Prada and Nate Timmons have already noted, there were some really bad lapses - but when a team is knocking down contested jumpers at that rate there's not a whole lot you can do. Even in the video above you see a number of very difficult shots that the Warriors hit.
- The Warriors executed their screens a lot better and screening the screener was especially effective. But something also has to be said for the Nuggets' effort: there were a number of situations where players just allowed themselves to get taken out of the play by a screen or simply didn't communicate with one another about a screen coming. Those are really basic things to correct.
- Karl abandoning his rotations so quickly that nobody can get into a rhythm. This was a point made previously at Denver Stiffs by Jeffery Morton and I'd suggest that a lot of it was due to Denver simply not being prepared for the Warriors sans Lee. Looking at film - even from one game - should help them tremendously in knowing what to do.
- The Warriors' spacing was outstanding with Harrison Barnes in at the four. When you have the shooters that the Warriors have and someone like Jarrett Jack - no matter how frustrating at times - who can get to the basket off the dribble, having good spacing is huge so that you force the defense to actually respond to all of those threats. Adding Barnes to the mix just stretched the Nuggets defense thin and the Warriors made them pay for almost every mistake they made.
As the folks at Denver Stiffs and Prada have noted, all of those are correctable mistakes for the Nuggets - last night's game is not evidence that George Karl is just going to allow his team to get steamrolled. But the Warriors answered the major question I had: can they find an effective lineup without Lee available given that none of the other options had played significant mintues together? The answer to that was a resounding "yes".
For more on the Warriors' playoff run, check out our 2013 NBA Playoffs section.