Many observers consider the Denver-Golden State NBA playoff series the marquee matchup of the first round because it features two exciting teams that love to run.
DENVER — Curbing Stephen Curry and his three-point prowess is job No. 1 for the Denver Nuggets.
Curry leads the Golden State Warriors into the Pepsi Center for a Western Conference series starting Saturday that many consider the marquee matchup of the first round because it features two exciting, high-octane teams that love to run.
Might as well dust off the old red, white and blue basketball from the old ABA, as much as everyone is expecting these teams to get up and down the court.
While the Nuggets pile on points in the paint better than any team in the league, the Warriors do their damage from the fringe. They led the NBA with a 40.3 three-point shooting percentage.
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Curry, storming back from two years of ankle problems, shot his way into league history by making 272 threes this season, three more than former record-holder Ray Allen had for Boston in the 2005-06 season.
On Friday, he became the first Warriors player since Chris Mullin in November 1990 to win Western Conference Player of the Month honors after averaging 25.4 points and 8.1 assists while shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three-point range in eight games in April.
Backcourt mate Klay Thompson, a former Washington State standout, sank 211 long-range baskets this season. That’s 483 between them, the most by any duo in league history.
The Nuggets plan to send a wave of defenders at Curry to cool his hot hand, including Ty Lawson starting out and healthy doses of Andre Iguodala, their best perimeter defender.
“You’ve just got to be aware of where the shooters are,” Iguodala said. “Good defense can be beat sometimes by three-point shooters. But if you play the percentages, make them take tough shots, contest the shots, the percentages kind of fall toward the defense.”
Lawson said he wants to force Curry to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop to keep him from finding any rhythm.
“Just be physical with him. He wants to shoot, so don’t give him too much space. Just make him drive,” Lawson said. “Even when he does drive, he wants to step back and get a jump shot.”
And when he sets up behind the arc?
“I’ve got to be out there,” Lawson said. “I know his range. I’ve been watching his game and his range is unlimited.”
Forward Kenneth Faried, Denver’s top rebounder, has been out after spraining his left knee against Portland on Sunday. He practiced on a limited basis Friday and his availability for Saturday is in question.
Wilson Chandler is expected to start in Faried’s place.
• In a best-of-seven West first-round series matching teams with 56-26 regular-season records, the Los Angeles Clippers have the home-court advantage against Memphis.
Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin practiced Friday and got treatment on his back for spasms that bothered him earlier in the week. Starting Saturday, Griffin will joust with Grizzlies All-Star Zach Randolph, who is known as an agitator.
“That’s his whole M.O., is to frustrate guys, do his thing under the basket,” Griffin said. “I like to play physical, too. I don’t think I’ve lost my cool going against him yet.”
• After numerous injuries during his most frustrating season, guard Steve Nash wants to finish the postseason on the court with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nash said he is “very confident” he will return from a hamstring injury for Los Angeles’ playoff opener at San Antonio on Sunday. The two-time league MVP, who hasn’t played in April, practiced Friday but said, “I just don’t want to overpromise and get ahead of myself.”