Jackson: The most difficult game is the close out game
Jarrett Jack is shooting 74% (28-for-38) from the field over the last three games. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Programming note: Coverage of Game 5 between the Warriors and Nuggets begins Tuesday at 4:30 on CSN Bay Area, followed by playoff basketball at 5:00, with Warriors Postgame Live immediately after the final horn.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the Warriors are going to have trouble closing out their first-round playoff series against the Nuggets on Tuesday in Denver.
Conventional wisdom suggests that with a 3-1 lead, we’re looking at a desperate Denver team that will take care of business on its homecourt, and that it’s far more likely Golden State will have to close this thing out at Oracle on Thursday.
Problem with that thinking is that the Warriors have been anything but conventional this postseason.
Is it conventional to shoot 65 percent, 53 percent and 56 percent from the field in three consecutive playoff games? Is it conventional that the Warriors are battling Denver, among the league’s best rebounding teams, to a standstill on the glass?
Is it conventional that the Warriors can turn the ball over as much as they have – 18.5 per game – and still be in complete control of the series? Is it conventional that Stephen Curry scores 22 points in a six-plus minute stretch in Game 4? How about for Jarrett Jack to shoot 74 percent from the field (28-for-38) in the past three games? Or rookie Harrison Barnes playing two of his most complete games of the season in the playoffs? Or that Andrew Bogut has turned into … the old Andrew Bogut in the past two weeks?
Right now it’s check your expectations at the door and enjoy the ride. No, the Warriors don’t figure to put a bow-tie on this series in five games, but then again they might. How can you say they can’t if you’ve watched this series?
The Nuggets went 38-3 at the Pepsi Center during the regular season and they were on a 24-game home winning streak when the Warriors discombobulated them in Game 2. Are the Nuggets going to finish the season with a two-game home losing streak? Not likely, but you can’t rule it out with the way Golden State is playing.
The Warriors have dominated this series from beyond the 3-point line, and they’ve put on a perimeter shooting display that has been beyond impressive.
Denver has tried a little bit of this and a little bit of that on defense, but to no avail. The Warriors have consistently found the open man, and that man has knocked down shots.
While Curry has been outstanding in this series, he’s had all kinds of help. Bogut is playing his best basketball of the season, and because he’s been hurt, you could say best basketball in years.
Klay Thompson and Barnes have each put a couple of big games under their belts, and Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have been steadying factors and big-time playmakers.
The Warriors started this series as underdogs. From there, the series turned into a toss-up. Now, it tilts noticeably in the Warriors’ favor.
But are the Warriors really capable of taking four straight from the Nuggets and winning again on Denver’s home floor? Even experienced teams struggle with their inner fire and wherewithal when they know they’ve still got a back-pocket Game 6 at their place.
Game 5 is setting up like a tough one for the Warriors to win. But, hey, don’t put it past them.