Nuggets, Warriors won't slow down
Published on -4/19/2013, 9:48 AM
DENVER (AP) -- One axiom down and one to go for the Denver Nuggets.
The starless Nuggets spent all season proving they didn't need a superstar to be one of the league's top teams.
They won an NBA franchise-best 57 games and became just the 11th team in league history to lose three or fewer home games in a season, going 38-3 at the Pepsi Center.
Now, the Nuggets are out to disprove the notion NBA teams can't push the pace in the playoffs.
Coaches tend to shrink their benches in the postseason, when they run more set plays in the halfcourt that slow the flow and keeps players logging all those minutes from getting worn down.
The third-seeded Nuggets were delighted when Golden State secured the sixth seed, and not because Denver won the season series 3-1 or on account of Andrew Bogut being the only Warriors starter who has ever been to the playoffs.
No, it's because the Warriors also like to run, run, run. And when Game 1 tips off Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center, these two teams are pledging to ignore history and conventional playoff wisdom for a high-octane, run-and-shoot series that should make for riveting television.
"It's going to be a fun series," Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said. "It's going to be one of the most exciting first-round matchups. We both like to get up and down the court. It's going to be high-scoring."
"It's going to be up-tempo," Warriors guard Stephen Curry agreed. "That's the way we want to play and we want to try what we do best. That's what they do well, as well. I don't foresee us trying to change the tempo just because they're a fast-paced team. If we can get back and play strong transition 'D,' we should be all right. We haven't done that well against them. That's a difference-maker for us."
Denver led the league with a 106.1-point average this season, but if there's any team that can keep up with the Nuggets at altitude -- where Denver has won 23 straight games -- it could be the Warriors, led by David Lee and Curry, who broke Ray Allen's record for most 3-pointers made in a season.
Although Kenneth Faried (ankle) is day to day and Danilo Gallinari (ACL) is out, the Nuggets won't slow down any now that Lawson, their turbo-charging point guard has recovered from a torn right heel that sidelined him for eight games recently.
"I feel like it's good. It's not hurting no more, so I'm ready to play," Lawson said. "Total relief. The last two games I played with no pain afterward, so I just get out there and play. At first with the pain I was having I didn't think I was going to be able to come back until sometime in the playoffs, so I'm relieved that it's back to 100 percent."
Faried hopes to play in the opener but coach George Karl said he wouldn't know until Saturday if his top rebounder will suit up for the series opener. Karl was hoping to get a look at Faried at a shootaround before the game but because it's an afternoon tipoff, neither team will have a shootaround that day.