Warrior Mentality: Can Golden State Close Out Denver Tonight?
It’s not easy being a Golden State Warriors fan. I jumped on the bandwagon back in the early 80s, long after they had won the 1974-75 NBA title with guys like Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes. Big Al Attles was still their coach, but the team was made up of a bunch of non-matching parts and assorted miscreants. They were, however, a hell of a lot of fun to watch. With players like Bernard King, World B. Free, and Purvis Short, how could they not be? Walking corpse Joe Barry Carroll was also on those teams, long before zombies were chic. Anyway, that group didn’t really go anywhere and the Warriors really struggled until Don Nelson’s Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin, Run TMC era, which was great, but still no hardware to show for it. After that it was pretty much two decades of awful trades, horrible teams, and the occasional attempted strangulation of a coach. That’s what makes this mostly-meaningless first round playoff series against the Nuggets so damn exciting.
Golden State enters tonight’s Game 5 at Denver’s Pepsi Center just two days removed from administering an absolute beat down on the Nuggets in Oakland. The 115-101 final score did not do the Warriors’ absolute dominance justice. But it wasn’t just that they won convincingly, it was how they won. As someone who lives on the East Coast, I rarely get the chance to watch the Warriors play, but I stayed up late Sunday because, from the opening tip, it was an incredibly entertaining game. Stephen Curry, playing on a bum ankle, focused more on dishing than shooting in the early going including an impressive trio of assists to Andrew Bogut. Andrew Bogut? Did I just say Andrew Bogut? Yeah, believe it or not, the injury-plagued big guy was a slam-dunking machine and even dished out a behind-the-back pass of his own. Guard Jarrett Jack was solid on both ends of the floor adding nine assists to his 21 points while grabbing five rebounds. Curry, meanwhile, seemed content to play rope-a-dope until the third quarter when he absolutely took over the game. He finished with 31 points.
Tonight the Warriors will try to finish this series in five games, but the task will be anything but easy. Though Denver has looked out of synch through most of these games, they didn’t get the #3 seed by accident. Prior to Golden State winning Game 2 in Denver a week ago, the Nuggets had a league-best 38-3 record at home. So, trying to win a second game in Denver, and a game that’s a must-win for the Nuggets, will be very tall order. That being said, since losing all-star forward David Lee in Game 1, the Warriors don’t seem to fear anything. If they can somehow pull out a win tonight, it will go a long way in getting Curry’s ankle some much-needed rest and allowing the rest of the team a chance to gear up for round two. Yeah, we’re getting ahead of ourselves but, again, it’s been a long wait.