After a two-year absence, the Golden State Warriors are finally back in the NBA Playoffs conference semifinals. The Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets 102-98 on Wednesday evening in San Francisco. This concluded a hard-fought series in which Golden State won four of five games against Denver in their series.
Stephen Curry gained control in the fourth quarter after struggling early during his first appearance since coming back from an injury. He scored nine of his 30 points in the last three minutes of the match, enabling the Warriors to overcome an eight-point deficit after three quarters.
30 PTS | 5 REB | 5 AST
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 28, 2022
“Tonight was just a weird feeling because we hadn’t been there in a while,” said Curry. “We wanted it so bad, kind of made it a lot more difficult on ourselves. But we still remember how to do it, which is a good feeling.”
Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson and point guard Gary Payton II each had 15 points for the Warriors, who struggled offensively throughout Game 5.
“I was a witness, letting him cook, create plays for him. Try to get him open looks and after that, you know what he does,” said Payton.
Curry scored on 5-of-11 attempts from distance in his first start of the series on Wednesday evening. However, it was his ability to drive past double teams and finish in the lane that shifted the game’s dynamics dramatically in the fourth quarter.
Current NBA MVP and Nuggets ace Nikola Jokic was extremely dominating throughout the game. The center finished with 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting, 19 rebounds, and eight assists.
Sadly, it was not enough to force a Game 6 for the Denver Nuggets. Here are four key takeaways from the Golden State Warriors’ 102-98 Game 5 victory against the Denver Nuggets.
With 6:57 remaining, Payton made a go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner in front of Denver’s bench to put Golden State up 86-84. With 2:26 left, Jokic hit an 18-footer to tie the game at 90, and Payton followed with a basket. He ended with a total of 15 points.
“He was incredible, both ends of the floor, big shots, big plays,” said teammate Draymond Green.
Jokic made two free throws with 3:46 remaining following Green’s foul on the 7-footer, Jokic finished the game with a successful 12 for 18 from the field. Nuggets center DeMarcus Cousins scored 19 points off the bench against his former team, the Warriors, while forward player Aaron Gordon added 15 points and nine rebounds.
“That guy is a warrior. I just don’t understand the people that find a way to criticize Nikola Jokic. Is he perfect? No, I’m not saying he is,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “But the guy is the definition of a warrior — competitive, consistent. He impacts the game in so many ways. Hell of a season. Hopefully, he’ll win the MVP again. I think rightfully he deserves it.”
Denver scored seven of its first ten points after halftime to break a 48-all tie and take a 66-56 advantage. Curry’s three-pointer, with 4:06 remaining, cut the Warriors’ lead to 68-67.