On paper the Western Conference playoffs are a perfect storm of matchups and intrigue. The storylines and matchups promise to make must watch television in what is habitually a very predictable week in the sports calendar. The first round of the NBA playoffs is often more akin with the NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament–the higher seeds (almost) always win. Amongst all of the matchups, the one that is absolutely going to sizzle on the court is Denver vs Golden State.
Can the Nuggets win without a bona fide superstar has always been the question surrounding this group. George Karl was on PTI this week, and championed how he has a great team, and the best team always wins. A superstar like Lebron can make his team the best team in the playoffs and win the title. Karl says the Nuggets can win because they have a great team. And after watching them play this year, I believe him. But the Nuggets team is not as good of a team without Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried.
The absence of stars for Denver leaves a void for a star to make his mark in his first career playoff series. Enter Steph Curry.
Curry broke the all time NBA single season three point record of 272 (the previous record was 269 by Ray Allen) in the final game of the season. And against Denver the series is sure to be up and down. Curry will have plenty of looks in transition. If Steph Curry can knock down the open shots on the biggest stage of his career to date, a NBA star will become an NBA superstar. And Steph Curry’s track record in college and the pros is that he is up to the task.
Even without Gallinari and Faried, where the Nuggets have a decisive edge is in playoff experience. The Warriors top 3 scorers have no playoffs experience. The Splash Brothers, Curry and Klay Thompson, along with David Lee have never been in the playoffs. Never. In his 8th NBA season David Lee will finally be in the first round of the playoffs. Somewhere near San Antonio, even Tracy McGrady snickered at that fact.
Both teams will run, but where the series will be won is on the boards. Both Denver and Golden State are two of the top 3 rebounding teams in the NBA. The Nuggets are the best offensive rebounding team in the league with over 13 a game. But the Warriors are the best defensive rebounding team in the league. Whoever wins that matchup will likely win the series. And without Kenneth Faried the Nuggets aren’t nearly as dangerous on that end.
The Warriors are the best three point shooting team in the league, and the Nuggets one of the worst. If Faried isn’t there to be a menace on the boards and clean up the mess the Nuggets will end another disappointing playoff series with an early exit. But if Faried’s ankle is ok and he makes an impact, the Nuggets will advance to play the winner of Lakers and Spurs series.