Video review of Game 2: Warriors vs. Nuggets

USA TODAY Sports

Well, the one takeaway from Game 2 - the Nuggets have a lot of tightening up to do. After losing 131-117, nobody's job seems safe.

The Denver Nuggets need to make some serious adjustments come Game 3 on Friday, April 26th and George Karl is already talking about it. The Golden State Warriors were down David Lee and inserted point guard Jarrett Jack into the lineup and Mark Jackson was King Midas for a night -- even though it appeared Denver was the team in gold.

From Nuggets practice today, Karl is already thinking about one lineup change that should sound familiar:

It was center Kosta Koufos who was benched last post-season in favor of Timofey Mozgov after starting the first two games against the Los Angeles Lakers and putting up just 2 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 block in 24 total minutes (12 minutes in each game).

Koufos had 6 points (2-7 shooting) and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes in Game 1 and in Game 2 he played just 13 minutes and had 0 points (0-1) and 2 rebounds. This just hasn't been Koufos' series and Andrew Bogut has been bullying him inside for two games.

With depth as his hammer, Karl may turn to some different faces and make some lineup adjustments. We saw Evan Fournier sat down to start the second half of Game 2 in favor of Andre Miller -- so who knows what we'll see in Game 3.


I want to go over some troublesome and some bright spots (yes, there were some) from Game 2 with some video footage to illustrate some points and we'll go in a timeline fashion - as we did with our review from Game 1.

Play 1: Andre Iguodala hits a three, Klay Thompson answers with his own - score tied 5-5


Why is this important?

You could say these plays are mirror images of one another. Lawson gets deep penetration into the Warriors defense and kicks the ball, off a hesitation, to Iguodala - who knocks down the shot. On the other end it was Stephen Curry getting the dribble penetration and kicking it to Klay.

Iggy and Klay were guarding each other and each sagged off just enough to allow the other to get into their shooting motion before they closed out. It's still my belief that once a guy gets into his motion, nothing short of actually blocking the shot is going to do much of anything.

The Nuggets came out with aggressive and hot offense and the Warriors did an excellent job of matching every big shot - that's what you have to do on the road to stay in the game and to keep the crowd out of the game. This is exactly what the Nuggets must do in Oakland this weekend in Games 3 and 4.

Play 2: Koufos' lone shot attempt and the Nuggets pick-and-roll defense - score tied 7-7


Why is this important?

This play illustrates two big concerns from Game 2:

1.) With Kenneth Faried out, there was a major lack of offensive rebounding.

2.) The Nuggets pick-and-roll defense is going to have to change - or is it?

Koufos went to work in the post and tried to draw contact to keep Andrew Bogut grounded before he tossed up a wild shot attempt. Koufos still has work to do in the post and we don't see a lot of these wild shot attempts from him, but he just was not comfortable going to work against Bogut on either end of the floor.

On the defensive side, you can see how the Nuggets wanted to defend the pick-and-roll -- they wanted the big man to prevent any dribble-penetration and force jumpers. This is how the Nuggets defended the pick-and-roll all night long, the big waiting to "catch" the guard and the Warriors' player knocking down open jumpers at a fantastic rate.

Will the Nuggets change it up and play the big coverage tighter off the screen? We'll see how Denver elects to adjust in Game 3, but forcing the guard to take long jumpers should play into Denver's favor -- if you play tight and force the drive, the bigs must stay with the wings and not allow them to blow by. The way Denver covers the pick-and-roll has concerned Karl all season long.

Play 3: Chandler dunk over Bogut - score tied 13-13


Why is this important?

Andrew Bogut has been a huge, literally, problem for the Nuggets attacking the rim. The Warriors have done an excellent job not allowing Denver to get clean drives to the rim, but when Denver does - Bogut has been a great last line of defense. Bogut had 4 blocks in Game 1 and just 1 block in Game 2, but he is forcing the Nuggets to alter the way they attack inside.

Here we see Chandler straight-up challenge Bogut and dunk over him. Bogut is a decent athlete and has looked incredibly strong, the Nuggets can challenge him above the rim and must continue to do so. You can see Jack slide down onto Koufos in case Chandler wants to drop a pass off and that has been another key for the Warriors, excellent defensive rotations. The Nuggets must continue to force the issues at the rim and keep on challenging the rotations of the Warriors.

Play 4: Festus Ezeli screen leads to Faried on Thompson - score tied 22-22


Why is this important?

Watch the screen Ezeli sets on Andre Miller to free up Klay Thompson - he just obliterates Miller with an awesome screen. This is how you set screens in the NBA. Faried does a nice job of reading the play and not allowing Thompson to get an open three, but now he's in trouble as he's not 100-percent and likely couldn't keep up with Thompson even if he was.

The Nuggets are being forced to switch everything as Golden State is just doing a great job of getting their guys coming off walls of screens -- sometimes there are multiple screens set in different locations to free up a guy or to block a defender from getting into defensive position (more on that later).

Play 5: Jack sees the hard closeout by Miller and drives by him - score tied 24-24


Why is this important?

Once the Warriors established the jump shot, they can bank on the Nuggets closing out hard. By sinking off guys, Miller is forced here to close hard on Jack, Jarrett recognized this and used a simple fake to go right by Miller for an easy runner. This just shows how much Denver's defense was trying to recover and a great way to get open shots when you know a hard closeout is on the way.

Play 6: Miller layup, Faried in position for offensive board - Nuggets go up 28-26


Why is this important?

Without Faried there is a serious lack of bodies going for offensive rebounds. Watch Faried here just hop down the lane and position himself for a Miller miss. Andre made the shot, but Faried put himself in the right place. Rebounders have to play percentages of where shots are going to miss - Faried is in a prime spot for a miss here and throughout Game 2 he was in the paint when the Nuggets' shots went up. He got only 1 offensive board, but his body inside will draw fouls, get boards, and put pressure on the Golden State defense -- this is a good thing. (Also, check out Ezeli throw Faried out of the way ... the Warriors have some nasty in their games! You gotta like that as a Dubs fan.)

Play 7: Miller settles for a long jumper instead of something else ... - no change in score (28-26 Nuggets)


Why is this important?

Watch JaVale McGee on this play. He goes for a screen on the baseline on Harrison Barnes to free up Iggy, slips the screen, and looks for the usual Miller alley-oop pass - the pass that never came. If you watch Miller, you don't see him really looking at McGee, but he does seem to glance and see it -- this is a play Denver succeeded in a lot during the season and it looked open. Why not challenge Ezeli? To me, this was either a sign of the team playing a little tight or me just over-evaluating everything - I'll leave judgment up to you.

Play 8: Curry penetration opens up three-ball for Draymond Green - 29-28 Warriors


Why is this important?

Brewer and Iggy switch on Curry as the screen, once again, is nice. Iggy chases Curry off the three-point line, Ezeli sets another screen, and McGee lets Curry go by him as he tries to set Curry up to take a layup that he can block from behind. Curry instead kicks the ball out to Green, who is open as Miller is worried about Ezeli rolling to the hoop and leaves his man (Green).

This is the Warriors working for the best shot and creating chaos by driving into the defense. Should McGee have cut Curry off instead of trying to set himself up for a block? Should Iggy have switched onto Ezeli to prevent the roll? Should Miller stick with a 20% three-point shooter in Green? Lots of questions on how to defend that play. You'd think by playing the percentage of Green not being a great shooter would work, but NBA players can hit wide open shots.

Opening of the second half:

Honestly, I thought the Nuggets were a little lucky to be down just 8 points heading into the second half. When the lead ballooned on the Nuggets in the opening minutes of the third quarter - the score finally reflected more how it felt like the game was going. Denver did an alright job fighting to get back into the game on offense, but the defensive execution was just not there. The Warriors exposed too many flaws and just were in too good of a groove to allow a comeback.

Here are a few key plays that opened the game up in the second half for Golden State.

Play 9: Warriors use two screens, in different locations, to get Curry wide open - 63-53 Warriors


Why is this important?

This is the play I was referring to in "Play 4" - the double screen. Watch Harrison Barnes set a screen on Koufos that doesn't allow him to get up to where Bogut is screening Iggy. This allows Curry just enough time to dribble around the screen and get a wide open look. This is just wonderful offense and smart offense that is playing to the strength of the game. Koufos read where Bogut was going wrong and allowed Barnes to pin him off from where the play was heading.

Play 10: Lawson turnover, Thompson three in transition - 66-53 Warriors


Why is this important?

Lawson allows a little bit of grabbing by Curry off the screen to change where he wants to go with the ball as he tries to accentuate the contact. This is where the Nuggets have to ignore the contact, put their heads down, and go right to work. Can't worry about the calls. Lawson goes into no man's land near the foul line, leaves his feet, and tosses an easy turnover to Bogut.

Bogut tips the ball to Barnes, who gets it to Curry, who gets it to Klay for something the Warriors love - a transition three. Suddenly an 8 point lead is up to 13 points just over :30 seconds.

Play 11: Bogut back screen on Iguodala, Koufos called for illegal screen


Why is this important?

The Warriors introduced some nasty into the series on this play. Referee Bill Kennedy is staring right at Bogut and doesn't blow his whistle on the most obvious illegal screen of the game. Some nice upper body shoulder into a defenseless player. As Reggie Miller points out, Koufos and Miller didn't warn Iguodala. The Nuggets set a screen on the next play and were called for an illegal one - I think the refs were looking for retaliation, but Koufos didn't really even move.

The Nuggets don't really have a nasty player on the roster outside of Timofey Mozgov. The Moz has put up some hard fouls in his time (Blake Griffin anyone?), but he has yet to set foot on the court. Fans always enjoy a little contact and it has been the Warriors being the more physical team, so far, in this series. Will the Nuggets, without being cheap-shot artists, get physical?

Play 12: Jack layup over Miller, Koufos jogging back on defense - 71-54 Warriors


Why is this important?

With 10:35 left in the third quarter Jack races down court to get a coast-to-coast layup. Watch Koufos on the play, he sees Jack running right in front of him, but never turns on the burners to go for a defensive play. This was the most obvious sign of Koufos just being out there and not being a factor. It's the playoffs, go all out! Right after this play, Koufos was taken out of the game for McGee - less than two minutes into the second half.

---

A lot of things can be made up for with simple effort. The Nuggets have been getting out-worked in this series. It's something they can fix and there is a certain aspect that shows Denver is the underdog heading into Game 3 - this is a good thing. The Warriors crowd will be electric, the team ready to go out and show they can take control of the series.

The Nuggets should have a chip on their shoulder and we should see them rise to the occasion. Karl has talked all season about how his team is mentally tough - time to show it. We may have one heck of a series on our hands. This weekend in Oakland will show us the resolve of this Nuggets team.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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