Warriors vs. Nuggets Game 2 preview: Nuggets must take advantage of good fortune

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

David Lee is out. Kenneth Faried is back. Now if the Nuggets could just make some free throws ...

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2012/2013 NBA Playoffs First Round: Game 2



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0-1 (0-1 on road)
1-0 DEN
1-0 (1-0 at home)
April 23rd, 2013 - 8:30 PM (MT)
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
Altitude / TNT / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Stephen Curry PG Ty Lawson
Klay Thompson SG Evan Fournier
Harrison Barnes SF Andre Iguodala
Carl Landry PF Wilson Chandler
Andrew Bogut C Kosta Koufos
Notes
Golden State of Mind Blogs Denver Stiffs
David Lee (hip) and Brandon Rush are out Injuries Kenneth Faried (ankle) is probable, Danilo Gallinari (ACL) is out
On two days rest during the regular season, the Warriors were just 4-4. Stat There is a HUGE statistical historical advantage when winning Game 1 at home ... but let's not jinx anything.

If the Denver Nuggets have one Achilles heel it's their putrid free throw shooting (evident by finishing third from last in team free throw shooting for the regular season). The Nuggets' ineptness from the charity stripe reared its ugly head in Game 1 of their first round series against the Golden State Warriors when the Nuggets missed 10 of their freebie attempts, despite being afforded 13 more attempts than their opponent. And yet, despite that (and despite missing 13 three-pointers, being out-rebounded by 10 and being out-assisted by 11), the Nuggets - as they've done all season long - found a way to win.

Game 2 shouldn't be nearly as difficult.

Not only will the Warriors be without All-Star power forward David Lee (a HUGE loss) for the remainder of the series, but one has to assume that the Nuggets can't shoot nearly as poorly from the free throw line and three-point range as they did in Game 1. Moreover, the Nuggets should have the services back of their own starting power forward - Kenneth Faried - making Golden State's life tougher than it already was.

Watching Game 1, it was as if Warriors head coach Mark Jackson studied those Spurs / Nuggets series from 2005 and 2007 when the Spurs simply shut down the Nuggets high-energy, fast-paced offense by lulling the game into a half court setting and daring the Nuggets to make jumpers. Something, remarkably, that no Nuggets team has been particularly good at during the George Karl Era.

But with Lee out of the picture, the Nuggets should be able to dictate the game's pace much better than was done in Game 1. Backup power forward Carl Landry will likely fill in admirably for Lee. But after Landry, the Warriors have ... well ... uh ... not much. And the Warriors can't ask much more from center Andrew Bogut after Bogut sat out most of the season due to injures (which is par for the course for the oft-injured Australian).

After the Nuggets were beset by injuries all season long to key players including Faried, Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, I suppose they were due for some good fortune. Now it's time to take advantage of it by making free throws and dictating a frenetic pace that the short-handed Warriors won't be able to keep up with.

Three things to look for in this game ...

1) Flip the rebounding advantage around. As noted above, the Nuggets were out-rebounded by 10 boards in Game 1. By taking out Lee and adding in Faried, the Nuggets should get the lion's share of caroms in Game 2.

2) Less reliance on Andre Miller. Game 1 was one of those "thank god for Andre Miller" games, but you can't expect the 37 year old backup point guard to deliver a 28-point performance in 27 minutes again. The Nuggets will need more from Lawson and Evan Fournier in Game 2 so that anything Miller provides is gravy, and not depended upon.

3) Keep Stephen Curry in check ... again. If the Nuggets did one thing well in Game 1, it was keeping the Warriors' point guard Stephen Curry reasonably in check. Nuggets head coach George Karl recently told me that Curry is "the best shooter" he has ever seen, and if that's the case then Karl and the Nuggets should be commended to holding Curry to a 7-20 shooting night. But with Lee out, Curry will be looking to put on a hero game. Hopefully this leads Curry to an assortment of forced shots.

Final Thought

With the Warriors expectations of winning one game in this series now down to zero thanks to Lee's injury, they could potentially be more dangerous as they have absolutely nothing to lose. And while the pressure of expectations is on Denver, I'm not too worried. Unless Curry goes for 50 (not impossible, by the way), an amp'd up Pepsi Center crowd should help the Nuggets drive the short-handed Warriors back to Oakland down 0-2.

Go Nuggets!!

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