Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets (-7.5, 213.5)
Golden State leads series 3-1
If the Denver Nuggets have any hope of extending their first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, they need to figure out a way to stop Stephen Curry. The standout guard and the Warriors will try to close out the Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday. Every time it has looked like Golden State would fall behind in the last three games, Curry has put the team on his back and broken the heart of Denver.
Curry has shaken off an ankle injury and set a record for most 3-pointers made in his first four career playoff games (18). But Curry is not just coming off screens for spot-up shots, most of his 3-pointers have come off the dribble and in transition, including back-breaking shots from 30 feet and off-balance shots off one foot that improbably splash through. The Nuggets have not been able to counter that sort of long-range accuracy and have lost something on the inside while going to a small lineup to counter the Warriors’ quicker starting five.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Golden State), Altitude (Denver)
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Curry scored 22 points in the last 6:22 of the third quarter on Sunday after the Nuggets had cut the lead to four. The flurry included a personal 9-0 run in which Curry hit a spot-up 3-pointer from the top of the key, drove the lane and sent a left-handed floater over JaVale McGee to start a three-point play and finished with an off-balance 3-pointer in transition that rattled home and sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Curry has had plenty of help from the likes of Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson on the perimeter but Golden State also got frontcourt production in the 115-101 Game 4 victory. Andrew Bogut and Carl Landry scored 12 points apiece in the first half to keep the Warriors on top while Curry got his ankle loose. Golden State became the first team to win in Denver since January when they got 30 points and 13 assists from Curry in a dominating 131-117 victory in Game 2. That was the first game after All-Star David Lee had gone down, inspiring coach Mark Jackson to go with the smaller lineup that has flourished.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS: Denver has gotten plenty of production out of the point guard tandem of Ty Lawson and Andre Miller but everything else has been inconsistent. The Nuggets were forced to change up their lineup toward the end of the season when Danilo Gallinari was lost and Kenneth Faried had to miss time with an ankle injury. Faried is back in the starting lineup but coach George Karl has modified things further in the last two games by pushing starting center Kosta Koufos to the bench and using Faried and swingman Wilson Chandler in the frontcourt. That left Denver vulnerable to the Bogut-Landry pair in the first half of Game 4. The Nuggets also turned the ball over 23 times in Game 4, leading to 33 points for the Warriors. “They found some magic,” Karl said, “and we have to find a way to take it away.”
* Warriors are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
1. The Nuggets have allowed an average of 118.7 points in the last three games - all losses.
2. Jack is shooting 73.7 percent since moving into the starting lineup in Game 2.
3. Denver has lost in the first round of the playoffs in eight of the last nine years.
Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 180)
Best-of-seven series tied 2-2.
The road team has yet to win in this Western Conference first-round series and the Memphis Grizzlies would like to change that when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers in Tuesday’s Game 5. Los Angeles opened the series with two home victories before the Grizzlies took the next two in Memphis to even the series. The Clippers averaged 102.5 points in their home wins and just 82.5 in their two losses. The Grizzlies’ wins were by a combined 33 points.
Memphis nearly notched a road victory in Game 2 but Chris Paul hit the game-winning basket with one-tenth of a second remaining. A victory in Game 5 would give the Grizzlies a chance to sew up the series at home in Game 6. “You can’t win a series without winning in L.A.,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said after Game 4. The Clippers appeared superior to the Grizzlies in their home wins and then were severely outmatched on the road. “We’ve got to take care of business in Game 5 at home in front of our fans,” Los Angeles coach Vinny Del Negro said after the 104-83 loss on Saturday. “But there’s no question we’re going to have to get back to playing the way we did the first couple games.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, Fox Sports Tennessee (Memphis), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES: Center Marc Gasol (24 points, 13 rebounds) and power forward Zach Randolph (24 points, nine rebounds) each had strong performances in Game 4 after being relatively quiet through the first three games. The double-double was Gasol’s first of the series while Randolph has put together back-to-back stellar outings after playing poorly in Los Angeles. Point guard Mike Conley had 23 assists against two turnovers in the two Memphis wins as he outplayed Paul. “I try to contain him as much as possible, but Mike is one of those guys that year-in and year-out just keeps getting better,” Paul said. “He’s a handful.” Conley set a Grizzlies’ postseason record with 13 assists in Game 4.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS: Paul and Blake Griffin each had 19 points in Saturday’s loss and could use some help from the other three starters. Center DeAndre Jordan had two points while forward Caron Butler and guard Chauncey Billups were both scoreless as the trio went a combined 1-of-13 from the field. The potent bench has also been struggling. Sixth man Jamal Crawford was just 7-of-21 shooting in the two road games and forward Matt Barnes was 5-of-14. Guard Eric Bledsoe was 3-for-12 after being 10-of-13 from the field in the two games in Los Angeles while forward Lamar Odom (6-of-17) has been subpar throughout the series.
* Grizzlies are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Clippers are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games.
* Over is 7-1 in Clippers’ last eight home games.
1. The Grizzlies set a franchise postseason mark with the 21-point Game 4 victory. The previous top margin of victory was 18 points over San Antonio during the 2011 playoffs.
2. Griffin grabbed 10 rebounds in Game 4 for his first double-double since April 7.
3. Memphis was 15-3 during the regular season when Gasol notched a double-double.