There’s always been a sort of wild west appeal to the NBA’s Western Conference, and this year is no different. Both the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, who have collided in the first round of the playoffs, serve as textbook examples of it. Each team is more than capable of making a deep playoff run, but neither register as more than a blip on the typical East Coaster’s radar.
Through the first two games of their Western Conference Quarterfinal, the Nuggets and Warriors sit tied at a game apiece. The results of each match have come down to whoever sets the pace of the game from the onset.
In Game 2, it was Golden State’s high-octane attack, spearheaded by point guard Stephen Curry, that drew the Warriors back even in the series. Curry’s 30 points and 13 assists were enough to get his club out in front in the first half and never look back.
Considering that in Game 1 Denver’s depth and defense was loaded, it’s no wonder the Nuggets were able to start the series off with a win of their own.
Now tied at one game each, the series shifts to the Bay Area, where the underdog Warriors hold a home-court advantage. Some experts and oddsmakers, however, don’t think that will be enough. The No. 6 seeded Warriors have just 100/1 odds of winning the NBA championship, compared to Denver’s 25/1 NBA futures.
Golden State will be without prized center David Lee for the remainder of the series as the All-Star injured his hip in Game 1. The absence, of course, didn’t stop the Warriors from sailing to success the next time out, but it could re-emerge as a concern the deeper these two clubs get into the best-of-seven series.
While Curry may be a budding superstar in his own right, he’ll need support from teammates Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes if he wants to keep his Warriors afloat against a team as deep as Denver’s.
Will Curry’s hot hand be enough to keep Golden State in contention as the series rages on? It wouldn’t be the first time the Warriors defied NBA odds and knocked off a favored opponent in the opening round.
That’s why they call it the wild west.