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Nightly Grades: Warriors even up with the Nuggets 1-1

By Royce Young | NBA writer

TeamGradeAnalysis
A+

What an incredible team performance by the Warriors. There were some standout individual games, most notably Stephen Curry -- 30 points and 13 assists -- but the Warriors as a team showed up big time in Denver for Game 2.

Down David Lee for the first time, Golden State played small almost the entire 48 minutes and gave Denver major matchup fits. The Warriors shot 64.6 percent from the field and hit 14-25 from 3. Curry hit four from deep. Klay Thompson went 5-6. The Warriors just poured in shots from all over.

And maybe most impressively, the Warriors had an answer for every single Denver run. Golden State held a 61-53 lead at the half, but knew the Nuggets were going to make pushes. The Warriors came out firing in the third to extend to a 17-point lead, then held off multiple pushes in the fourth by Denver. Big shots from Barnes, Jarrett Jack and of course, Curry, evened this up for the Warriors.

And keep in mind: The Nuggets hadn't lost at home since Jan. 18. They went 38-3 in Denver this season. But the Warriors got them there in the biggest game of the season.

What a win.

A

Doubling your playoff win total over the last 15 years in a three-day span? And going up 2-0 to take closer steps to winning a series for that same amount of time? Pretty alright.

J.R. Smith sparked the Knicks in the first quarter, then Carmelo Anthony picked up the torch in the second half. The Knicks offense ran good sets with quality movement and timely passing, while the Celtics struggled to find anything. After a little Boston push to start the fourth, the Knicks quickly snuffed it out with a few Melo jumpers and a couple easy transition buckets.

Boston seems to have missed its chance to steal a needed game in New York in Game 1, and while the Celtics were there for a bit in Game 2, it's becoming pretty obvious there's a significant gap between these teams.

A-

LeBron James' streak of 17 consecutive playoff games with 25 or more points came to an end as he finished with only 19. But Dwyane Wade was very good (21 points) and the Miami bench added 36 points.

The Heat used their transition explosiveness to find easy points to extend a lead in the third quarter, then a couple of dagger 3s by Norris Cole and Ray Allen really put it all to bed with about six minutes left in the fourth.

That's a 2-0 series lead for the Heat, and although Game 2 wasn't as easy as Game 1, the end result was effective. It seemed like the Heat were sleepwalking at times and lacked a sense of urgency, but that's the luxury they have with all that talent. The Bucks gave them a 44-minute game this time, but just don't have enough.

C-

It's not the Bucks' fault that their team is just nowhere in the same league as the Heat. They played hard, and really, played pretty well. They were completely in the game for a half, but then the Heat heated, and did that thing where they went on multiple 8-2 runs.

The Bucks got a nice game from Mike Dunleavy and good production from Ersan Ilyasova, but Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings scored a combined 15 points on 5-22 shooting.

If Jennings' prediction of Milwaukee in six is to come true, the Bucks need to win the next four. Um.

D-

If only the Celtics could figure out how to put together four quarters of offense, or even three for that matters, they might just be OK.

The Celtics scored only 25 points in the second half in Game 1. They outdid themselves in Game 2 only scoring 23. Twenty-three. Oof and oof.

Here's how little the Knicks fear Boston's offense: They sat all their starters with more than three minutes left and the lead just 14. But a 14-point lead over the Celtics with three minutes is basically a 40-point margin.

The Celtics are just hopeless sometimes. They're still a fairly elite defensive team, but not enough for that to carry them for the full 48. They actually got some bench production this time around but foul trouble for Kevin Garnett, horrible second half shooting and a no-show from Jeff Green did them in.

Now it's an 0-2 hole heading to Boston with Game 3 being must-win.

F

The Nuggets should be thanking their lucky stars this series is even tied 1-1. Without Andre Miller bailing them out in Game 1, they're in an 0-2 hole headed to the Bay Area.

The Nuggets have some major defensive issues in matching up, but without a healthy Kenneth Faried, Denver can't find the kind of big men combinations they're looking for. They gave up 131 points on almost 65 percent shooting. Let me repeat that: 131 points on almost 65 PERCENT SHOOTING.

That's not strong defense there.

So if you're looking for a brightside on the Denver perspective, you have to feel like the Warriors can't find that kind of shooting performance three more times, but still, the Nuggets have to be concerned right now.

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