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Bones Hyland and Austin Rivers gave the Nuggets a spark they desperately needed

These two guards stepped up to keep the Denver Nuggets season alive.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets season could have easily come to an end on Sunday afternoon at Ball Arena, but Bones Hyland and Austin Rivers were not going to let that happen. Nikola Jokic obviously played a big role, but the Nuggets needed someone else to step-up, which is exactly what Hyland and Rivers did.

It all started in the second quarter when Hyland made three 30+ foot three-pointers in a five minute span, which allowed the Nuggets to build a 17-point lead. Hyland was absolutely scorching and it was our first Bizzy show of the playoffs as Hyland struggled to score in the first three games of the series.

Hyland finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from three to go along with seven assists and four rebounds. It was the most points Hyland has scored in a game all series and it was also his most effective and efficient outing. It felt like Hyland might have been pressing a little in the first three games, but in game four he went back to being the sharpshooter we have all grown to love throughout his rookie season.

Now we shift the attention to Rivers, who won defensive player of the game for the Nuggets in game four in large part to his defense on Steph Curry and Jordan Poole. Even though Curry did what he usually does — 33 points off the bench — Rivers made life much tougher on him, which can be contributed to the physicality in which he played defensively:

“Our physicality tonight was the highest it’s been all series,” Rivers said following the Nuggets victory.

That physicality started with Rivers as he set the tone for the Nuggets on the defensive end of the floor, which also translated to a big bucket for him offensively. Rivers finished with just three points, but his one three came at a huge spot in the third quarter and gave the Nuggets some much needed momentum when the Warriors began to catch fire.

The adjustment Michael Malone and the Nuggets made was inserting Rivers over Jeff Green in the lineup more as Rivers logged 36 minutes to Green’s 16 minutes. It benefited the Nuggets a ton on the defensive end of the floor because it gave them much better matchups in terms of trying to slow down Curry, Poole, and Klay Thompson.

I predicted before the series that Rivers would start sooner rather than later, which is something that has not happened yet. I would not be surprised if Rivers starts in game five, but if he Warriors continue to bring Curry off the bench they might as well keep the same approach with Rivers.

It’ll be no easy task for the Nuggets to bring this series back to Denver for a game six, but if they have any chance of doing so they are going to need another big game from Hyland and Rivers. If game four was any indication of things to come, it feels as if the combination of Hyland and Rivers will once again play a pivotal role in the Nuggets success or non-success tomorrow night.