The Nuggets reacted. They were able to count on a gala Nikola Jokic, on a productive bench, on a finally aggressive Aaron Gordon, and on 42% of 3-point address. They also dominated the offensive rebound but their defense again took on water against the Warriors who distributed 29 assists and scored 55% of their shots to take a decisive advantage in this series.
Despite a defensive adjustment from Mike Malone who started with Aaron Gordon on Jordan Poole, the Warriors point guard, like Klay Thompson, started with a bang. Golden State is racing in the lead but 12 points from Nikola Jokic and the good comeback of the Austin Rivers – DeMarcus Cousins duo allow the Nuggets to hang on (34-32).
Cousins confirms his good passage but the Warriors are insolent of address. Behind the 3/3 at 3-point Gary Payton II, they pass a 14-4 to their opponent (61-49). Three lost balls from Stephen Curry allow Denver to respond with a 10-2 but the double MVP redeems himself with a winning shot and a 2+1 to put his team at +10 (69-59).
Back to the wall, the Nuggets start the third quarter on a 21-6 behind the address of Will Barton and Monte Morris, the impact of Nikola Jokic, and a defense which finally slows down the Warriors (80-75). Without panicking, the “Splash Brothers” respond with a 7-0 but the numerous ball losses of the Californians allow Bones Hyland to keep the Nuggets in front (89-87).
A 2+1 from Poole followed by two new award-winning shots from Klay Thompson immediately put Golden State back in front with six minutes to play (103-99). A gala Jokic then takes responsibility and reverses the trend. Denver takes a two-point lead but the Warriors defense raises the tone. Behind an ubiquitous Draymond Green, she keeps the Nuggets for over three minutes as Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Stephen Curry air-condition the Ball Arena for good!
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– Mike Malone’s defensive adjustments. If the first adjustment for the Nuggets came from the first second of the match with Aaron Gordon on Jordan Poole and Monte Morris on Klay Thompson, it was above all the use of Nikola Jokic, very low on pick & rolls in the first two matches, which had the most impact. The Serbian pivot was aggressive on the screen tonight to prevent Poole, Curry and Thompson from getting in their shots. We also saw Jokic on Gary Payton II to be able to help but it was their aggressiveness on the carrier and on the pick & rolls that made life for the Warriors a little more difficult.
– The second knives of Denver respond present. The saying goes that in the playoffs the substitutes always play better at home. This rule was confirmed last night for the Nuggets. Mike Malone was able to count on 31 points from his bench as Aaron Gordon finally entered his series by being aggressive towards the circle and using Golden State’s disrespect for his outside shot to take a cue from Draymond Green and pose screens to free his teammates.
– The Curry – Poole – Thompson trio again and always too strong! Despite Denver’s good game, their defense still suffered against the “Super Splash Brothers”. As in the first two games, Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson drove the opposing defense crazy. Thompson in particular found the target whenever Denver looked set to make the break. Before the start of the series, we knew that the Nuggets had no miracle solution against the Warriors’ rear base and the latter never ceases to expose the limits of their opponent.
✅Stephen Curry. Again in a role of sixth man of luxury, the double MVP continued his Game 2 momentum by scoring 27 points at more than 50% success in 30 minutes. He lost 4 balls but also delivered 6 assists.
✅Jordan Poole. Like his leader, Jordan Poole also added 27 points on 9 of 13 on shots. He was decisive in the last quarter and easily played Aaron Gordon’s defense.
✅Klay Thompson. The last “Splash Brother” was fantastic, scoring 26 points at 6 of 13 from distance. He also finished with more than 50% shooting success.
✅ Draymond Green. Ever-present on both sides of the pitch again, he finished with 10 assists and plenty of decisive defensive stops on Nikola Jokic in the final three minutes.
✅ Nikola Jokic. The Serb tried everything. He scored 37 points on 14 of 22 shooting, was aggressive, took 18 rebounds, made 5 assists but it was not enough to offer victory to his team.
⛔ Monte Morris-Will Barton. The Nuggets backbase finished 9-for-24 on shots and lacked impact to square off the Golden State trio.
⛔ Andrew Wiggins. After two good games, Andrew Wiggins was further back tonight but scored a decisive award-winning shot to put the Warriors ahead in the closing minutes.
Game 4 : see you on Sunday, at 9.30 p.m., for perhaps the final meeting of the series…