Well, that sure was exciting. It wasn’t always pretty, and it wasn’t always fun, but the Golden State Warriors got the job done, beating the Denver Nuggets 102-98 to win their series 4-1, and advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, where they’ll face either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Even if it wasn’t the prettiest, every playoff win is worth celebrating, especially the closeout games. And as Steph Curry pointed out in his post-game interview with the TNT broadcast, the team will benefit from having to dig deep in an important game, and pull out a win — something they hadn’t done in a long, long time.
So let’s grade them all, weighting for our expectations of each.
Note: League-average true-shooting percentage (TS) this season was 56.6%.
36 minutes, 11 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 4-for-10 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 50.6% TS, +12
I made a rather bold claim before the series started, that I thought this was the one series for the Warriors where Green would be a more important player than Curry. And after five games … I’m standing by it.
Green’s defense was, yet again, otherworldly in this game. His ability to get up and down the court quickly, while playing the 5 defensively, allowed the Dubs to not only get Nikola Jokić in foul trouble, but downright exhaust the reigning MVP. His playmaking was again exquisite, and he made a shot from distance which, coincidence or not, seems to be important.
Warriors are now 17-1 this season when Draymond Green makes a 3
— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) April 28, 2022
The last few weeks — and much of this season, really — are a reminder as to how good Green still is when he’s motivated and locked in and has something to play for.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists and plus/minus.
24 minutes, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 4-for-9 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 3-for-5 free throws, 53.6% TS, 0 plus/minus
Didn’t really notice Wiggins too much in this game, for better or for worse. Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. were part of the crew that got the Dubs back into it, and Wiggins stayed on the bench for much of crunch time, only returning with about two minutes left.
His effort level and defense were quite strong in this game, even if the memorable plays and good offense were largely absent. However, the Warriors are going to nee
38 minutes, 30 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 5 turnovers, 2 fouls, 10-for-22 shooting, 5-for-11 threes, 5-for-7 free throws, 59.8% TS, +7
The curious case of Curry’s missed free throws continues but, after a slow start from an efficiency standpoint, Curry turned it on by largely taking control of the fourth quarter. It was a phenomenal showing in which he not only made countless impressive shots, but showed his masterful ability to manipulate defenses.
The world is Steph’s oyster, and we’re all just living in it.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
40 minutes, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 2 fouls, 5-for-13 shooting, 1-for-6 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 50.8% TS, +6
Remember when Klay had a minutes restriction? Remember when people were worried about the fact that he was hoisting approximately three shots every possession and wouldn’t be able to have shot selection when it mattered most?
Those concerns are gone. Thompson led the Dubs in minutes, and has spent all series being the right amount of selective with his shot. They didn’t fall at a great rate in this game, but he made up for it with some excellent defense, and by crashing the glass — critical with the team’s undersized starting lineup.
And he went 40 minutes without a turnover!
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
26 minutes, 8 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 3-for-10 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 38.3% TS, -6
Whoops. After Game 4 I said the takeaway was that Poole was going to be on the floor in the important moments of games, even when it wasn’t his night.
Turns out that’s not quite true, as he was on the bench down the stretch on Tuesday, thanks to other players playing better. But Poole transitioned to a role as a cheerleader expertly, and he’ll bounce back strong in the semifinals.
A very spirited defensive effort from him, however.
5 minutes, 4 points, 2-for-4 shooting, 50.0% TS, -2
Kuminga got a tiny bit of run to try giving the Dubs a new look. He didn’t do much, but capitalized on his athleticism and some nicely drawn up plays a few times.
Otto Porter Jr.
24 minutes, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 foul, 1-for-4 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 37.5% TS, +2
After a so-so first half, Porter found himself on the court for much of the second half comeback, and did a great job of playing quality defense and grabbing rebounds. He’s still not scoring the ball particularly well — his shot has been in a bit of a slump — but he sure seems to be helping the team.
22 minutes, 4 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 fouls, 2-for-2 shooting, 0-for-2 free throws, 69.4% TS, +1
It’s pretty funny that Looney got moved out of the starting lineup for this game and proceeded to play his most minutes of the series — by far. With the starting lineup not functioning as well as the Warriors had hoped, Looney became a key bench player in this game, and played really well.
Gary Payton II
26 minutes, 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 fouls, 6-for-8 shooting, 3-for-4 threes, 93.8% TS, 0 plus/minus
Anyone predict Payton to be second on the team in scoring in a critical playoff game that they won? No?
What a game. What a freaking game. Teams continue to leave GPII open beyond the arc, and he continues to make them pay with his revamped three-point shot which, it’s worth noting, splashed in at a 35.8% clip this season. He continues to back cut teams to hell and back for easy buckets, and, as always, he continues to play All-Galaxy defense.
But best of all? In this game he made big shot after big shot after big shot, and played a massive role in the late comeback. Killer game.
Wednesday’s DNPs: Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee, Moses Moody, Juan Toscano-Anderson
Wednesday’s inactives: Andre Iguodala, James Wiseman