Previewing Game 2 of the Warriors-Nuggets first round series.
1. Where We're At: The Denver Nuggets are up 1-0 on the Golden State Warriors after outlasting an exciting and confusing Game 1 in Denver. Both team played well below their capabilities. The Warriors' backcourt struggled to get their shooting going, while the Nuggets couldn't overwhelm their opponents with the transition game. And while Golden State got a huge and unexpected boost from Andrew Bogut after David Lee tore his hip flexor, the Nuggets' bench proved to step up in a huge way with key contributions from Andre Miller, JaVale McGee and Corey Brewer.
2. The Big Number: 28. I'd like to think the 28 points from Andre Miller were an aberration that won't show its face around these Pepsi Center parts again, but the way he got his points exposed a fundamental flaw in how the Warriors decided to defend the Nuggets. When the Warriors went to a zone against a Nuggets' team that can't shoot 3-pointers (25th in the NBA), it was a really good strategy to take away the inside. However, Denver countered this by spreading out their non-shooters into the corners and on the wings. When they did this, Golden State foolishly extended the zone to match the spacing, which gave Miller all the room he needed to go one-on-one and find his way into the middle of the floor.
It's unlikely that he'll manage another 28-point outing in this series. He's only had two such games in the last three seasons (including playoffs). But if the Warriors are going to give him room to operate, we'll probably see more big contributions from him.
3. Key Adjustment: Rebounding. With David Lee out of the series and Kenneth Faried making his way back into the series, the Warriors are going to have to figure out how to battle on the boards. Faried is a terrible matchup for Lee to contend with in the first place, but the Warriors' All-Star forward is still one of the best rebounders in the NBA. To lose his effort and gain Faried's effort to contend with on the boards is going to be tough. The new life Andrew Bogut showed on the court is a great sign they may be able to compete on the glass. After all, they did win the rebounding battle 55-45 in the first game.
But someone is going to have to show up from the supporting cast. Carl Landry has never been much of a rebounder, so Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes will have to use their size, strength and athleticism to keep Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee from giving their team extended offensive possessions.
4. The Big Story: The point guard battle continues and hopefully improves. Ty Lawson was sloppy with his outside shot and wasn't able to set up his teammates for assists like he normally does. Stephen Curry was able to shoot a nice percentage (40 percent) from 3-point range in Game 1, but he made just 7-of-20 shots overall and couldn't find his way to the free throw line. Both of these young point guards were supposed to be the marquee matchup of this series, and they were both duds that each made a big play down the stretch. For the scoring and excitement in this series to really get ramped up, both of these guys have to come out and try to destroy each other. If it doesn't happen, their teams will have unanswered questions and we may not get the great series we expected it to be.
5. The Facts: 10:30 p.m. ET start time. Warriors' David Lee is done with a torn hip flexor. Kenneth Faried is probable for Denver but may come off the bench.