DENVER — The Denver Nuggets aren’t fazed.
They notice no crew has ever gained 4 elimination video games in a single postseason collection. They additionally know they’re the one crew in league historical past to beat back-to-back 3-1 playoff deficits.
That’s the place they discover themselves after avoiding a sweep by the Golden State Warriors with a 126-121 win Sunday to ship the rough-and-tumble collection again to San Francisco.
“Can I say we want them right where we want them? No, but we’re alive,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. “We live to fight another day.”
Game 5 is Wednesday evening.
Although not one of the 143 different groups who confronted a 3-0 deficit within the NBA playoffs ever bounced again to advance, the Nuggets turned the league’s first crew ever to beat 3-1 deficits in consecutive collection two years in the past after they bounced the Jazz and Clippers within the Orlando bubble.
“The odds are against us,” mentioned MVP favourite Nikola Jokic. “But we’ve beaten the odds a couple of times, so why not?”
Jokic scored 37 factors and fed Will Barton for a 3-pointer from the left nook with 8.3 seconds left after Monte Morris’ brief jumper broke a 121-all tie and Austin Rivers stole Otto Porter Jr.’s move.
It was a reversal of final-minute fortunes for the Nuggets, who faltered down the stretch in a five-point loss in Game 3.
“We felt like it could have been 2-2 if we didn’t drop that last game,” mentioned Rivers, who famous the Nuggets lastly matched the Warriors’ physicality, particularly down the stretch.
Morris completed with 24 factors. He hit 5 3-pointers within the third quarter, essentially the most in 1 / 4 by any participant in these NBA playoffs.
Aaron Gordon chipped in 21 factors and helped stifle Jordan Poole, who got here in averaging 28.7 factors this collection however was held to 11.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 33 factors regardless of lacking 13 of 23 pictures, going 3 for 11 from lengthy vary and lacking 4 free throws for the primary time in his profession, whether or not within the playoffs or the common season.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world, missed free throws,” Curry mentioned. “It’s what I do really well.”
Klay Thompson scored 22 of his 32 factors after choosing up his fourth foul within the closing second of the primary half. He completed with 5 fouls.
Behind flexing rookie Bones Hyland’s three consecutive 3s, the Nuggets opened a 40-23 lead within the second quarter and so they nonetheless had a nine-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
Curry’s jumper gave Golden State a 121-119 lead, however Jokic’s finger-roll layup tied it again up and Andrew Wiggins missed a dunk on the different finish because the Warriors went scoreless over the ultimate 80 seconds.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr mentioned it was nonetheless a “great experience” for the gamers on his crew who haven’t been in close-out playoff conditions after Golden State missed the playoffs the final two years.
“We needed that,” Kerr mentioned. “I felt like we got completely away from the game plan tonight in the first half, because I think we were almost too anxious to win the series.
“But the focus now goes to heading home and the back in front of our fans” with an opportunity to shut it out at residence, Kerr mentioned.
“So, we’re right where we need to be.”
Thompson mentioned the Warriors have to be unfastened ones in Game 5, taking part in as if their season was on the road, not Denver’s.
“We got to go with the attitude like all right, it’s a must-win,” Thompson mentioned. “We’d like to have some rest before the next series.”
Thompson mentioned the Warriors don’t wish to come again to Denver till subsequent season “because a win by them and anything’s possible.”
The Jazz and Clippers can attest to that.
“Out of all teams in the playoffs,” Malone mentioned, “I think we’re probably the most comfortable being down 3-1.”
The Nuggets took a 63-52 halftime lead after a transfer by Kerr backfired with lower than a second left within the second quarter.
Kerr despatched Thompson again into the sport with six-tenths of a second remaining and Thompson executed the play to perfection, coming off the display for the layup — solely, he pushed Rivers on his approach to the rim, so the basket was waved off and Thompson was whistled for his fourth foul.
Warriors: Thompson was 7 of 11 from past the arc however his teammates have been simply 5 of 23 on 3-pointers. … Draymond Green picked up his first foul 40 seconds into the sport when he poked Jokic in the fitting eye. In the following tussle, Gordon and Thompson have been assessed a double technical.
Nuggets: Rivers had 5 steals. … Hyland completed with 15 factors. His closing 3 was a 33-footer that capped a 14-2 run with Jokic catching a breather on the bench after scoring or aiding on 20 of Denver’s first 23 factors. “Those big shots don’t faze me,” Hyland mentioned.