No reason to be discouraged, Warriors fans. No reason at all.
There wasn’t anything that happened during Tuesday night’s Game 5 loss to Denver – a 107-100 defeat at the Pepsi Center – that should alarm you.
Yes, the Warriors missed an opportunity to close out a playoff series, and you never want to do that. Then again, asking a No. 6 seed to finish off a No. 3 in their own building, to win a series in five games, is asking an awful lot.
These are the playoffs, after all, and no self-respecting 57-win team, such as the Nuggets, is going to go down easily.
What’s most encouraging is that the Warriors’ played their worst game of the series, and we were still watching late in the fourth quarter. They shot poorly (for them), got outrebounded and turned the ball over a lot again.
They got a little bowled over by the Nuggets’ combination of energy and desperation early on and got down 20 at halftime. Still, two different runs got them within striking distance down the stretch. Which means, as the old adage goes, they gave themselves a chance to win on the road late in the game.
With just under two minutes remaining, the Warriors had clawed within 100-95, and both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson had good looks at 3-point shots. Both missed and both could have gotten them within two. And that was the Warriors’ big chance.
The Warriors looked like the favored team in Game 5, the better team, quite frankly. Yes, they got down big, and, no they weren’t at their best, but yet you just sensed they were going to rally at some point.
There have been plenty of times in the past when the Warriors have gone into Denver and gotten overwhelmed by the pace, the altitude, the environment, all of it.
Not in this postseason, but certainly earlier in the regular season and in regular season’s past.
But this team – on Tuesday night, at least – played with a confidence and an understanding that if it could take the emotion out of the game and boil it down to just basketball, they were the better team.
During the Warriors’ loss on Tuesday, you never got the sense they were going to go away without kicking up their heels some. And that’s what they did. They cut a 20-point halftime lead down to nine points, then watched it balloon back up to 18.
And yet they came again. If there’s one thing we pretty much know for sure about this series, it’s that if any team is going to come back from down 20 points it’s going to be the Warriors. It’s not going to be the Nuggets.
Curry didn’t shoot the ball well, and Jarrett Jack wasn’t at his best, either. Andrew Bogut played only 18 minutes, and they were mostly ineffective. The Warriors’ leading scorer was rookie Harrison Barnes (23 points), and though he’s raising more and more eyebrows the longer the series goes, we all know that’s not a good sign.
It would have been really nice if the Warriors could have beaten the Nuggets in Denver to close out the series last night. But they needed to be better than they were to have done that. They’re usually a little bit better at home, and the Nuggets are usually not as good on the road.
The Warriors are coming back to Oracle for Game 6, and it’s still looking good for them. And nothing in Game 5 should convince you otherwise.