The Denver Nuggets came into the NBA Playoffs with a 23-game home winning streak and a “we think we deserve more respect” chip on their shoulder.
What they deserve is an Emmy. They acted like a championship caliber club all season, amassing the NBA's best home court record at a ridiculous 38-3.
Instead, the Nuggets are simply the most exciting team in the league, with several former dunk contest players on the roster: Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee. Fools gold. Well, not even. None of them won those contests either.
They can run and gun all day long, score on high-flying plays and deplete their foes, already suffering from the change in altitude. That's what happened in Game One of this series. Only an all-time performance from Andre Miller put Denver 1-0. But when Golden State got adjusted to the altitude, or realized they could definitely hang with the overrated three seed, they blew out the Nuggets 131-117 in their first game without David Lee.
The Warriors were too much for the Nuggets in the fourth quarter of Game Four, too. Anthony Randolph picked up a BS technical when Golden State led by 11 points with 3:30 left, and Miller's frustration boiled over as he picked up another T for arguing. Jarrett Jack hit two free throws, and the game was effectively over. It finished at 115-101, Golden State's second double-digit win of the series.
For the Warriors, it's been the Stephen Curry shooting show. He dropped 31 points in Game Four, scoring 22 points in the third quarter to put Denver away early on a bum ankle and a bloodshot eye he picked up from Corey Brewer's left hand. He's been a ridiculously good tournament player since his Davidson days. Now, the hot hand has turned into a scoring machine.
While Denver's ceiling appears obviously limited, Curry's Warriors can develop into a possible contender. Ray Allen and Reggie Miller both made consistent, deep runs during their Hall of Fame careers, and Curry appears to have a similar career-arc projection. Surrounded by young talent with the potential to fill up the box score beside Curry, and Coach Mark Jackson on a mission, this team could be dangerous for a long time.
The Nuggets won't be, except during the regular season, as they are currently built. They may grab Game Five at home, but Golden State is heading to the second round.
Where they head after that depends on young Stephen Curry.