The Golden State Warriors are making the most of their success this season, pounding the Denver Nuggets into submission for the third straight game on Sunday night to get within one win of advancing to face San Antonio and the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Warriors have done all this without their All-Star power forward David Lee, inspiring incredible performances from Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry in his place. But what has carried this team is its back court triumvirate of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack, none more so than the blazing performances of Curry.
In the age of the point guard, there is perhaps no more important position at which a team can flex its muscle. You need speed, court vision and the ability to get some points out of your point guard now more than ever and we are seeing a fine example of just how exciting the game can be when two world class point guards face off with Curry vs Ty Lawson.
Having come through enough ankle injuries and surgeries to end a lesser player’s career, Curry is now playing on a level that further proves his omission from the All-Star game was unjustified. With the handles of an Isaiah Thomas and the court vision of a Magic Johnson, Curry is the true offensive definition of what a point guard should be.
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In game four, it was his incredible 22 point performance in the third quarter that propelled the team to victory. Finishing with 31 and 7 assists, Curry is playing like an MVP and completely cancelling out his point guard counterpart, who in any other series would be the head of the highlight reels.
Lawson is carrying the Nuggets on his own at times, reeling off jump shots and getting to the line like a superstar. Without Danilo Gallinari, with Kenneth Faried less than 100%, many thought it would be Andre Iguodala that the team turned to for big scoring numbers, but it has been Lawson that has proven the key to any success Denver is having on the offensive end of the floor.
In game four, his 26 point 6 assist night was the only thing keeping the game from becoming a complete blowout by the middle of the third quarter. For the series, he is averaging 23 points and 8 assists per night and has pretty much had his way off the dribble night in and night out.
This point guard matchup is clearly the best of the first round in either conference. If Derrick Rose were healthy enough to battle Deron Williams, it would undoubtedly top this matchup, but nowhere in the first round do we see two more evenly matched floor generals squaring off. Mike Conley vs Chris Paul doesn’t even compare even though that series is much tighter.
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Denver and Golden State has been by far the most surprising and entertaining series thus far, between game three’s down to the wire finish, and the incredible swing in momentum thanks to Golden State’s strategic fortitude. If Lawson can lead Denver back in game five, what promises to be the most raucous environment of the postseason will await them in the Bay Area for game six.
While the Warriors have the upper hand at present, Curry is about to lead them back into the lion’s den that is the Pepsi Center, a place the Nuggets have only lost four times all season. If the Nuggets can take game five and break the Warriors hold over them, it may be all they need to get the mojo back that had them as clear favorites coming into the series. Right now, Curry holds the upper hand in the point guard matchup, averaging 27 points and 10 assists, but with his back against the wall, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Lawson take over at home. In any case, get ready for game five, because even if it is the last matchup between these two, it’s the best point guard battle you’re going to see in this round.