Stephen Curry gives Warriors best chance to beat Nuggets

  • FILE - In this March 13, 2013 file photo, Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry reacts after scoring during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Oakland, Calif. The headliner in the Golden State-Denver first-round playoff series is Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who set a record for 3-pointers this season. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

One enormous point to remember as the NBA playoffs get under way: Though the Warriors are the clear underdogs for many solid reasons, they also have the best, most dangerous player on either roster in this fascinating first-round matchup vs. Denver.

That would be Stephen Curry, and when's the last time the Warriors went into any playoff series knowing that their player was the single most important force — to either unleash or contain — in a playoff round? Maybe since Rick Barry in the mid-1970s? (The Mullin-Hardaway-etc. teams were very talented, but they kept running into Barkley-Payton-David Robinson-Magic-Kareem-KJ in their short playoff campaigns.)

This is no way alters the fact that the sixth-seeded Warriors will have a giant task ahead of them vs. No. 3 Denver, not the least being Denver's NBA-best 38-3 home record and the significance of this series starting with two games in the Mile High City.

To get any kind of footing, the Warriors will have to find a way to steal one of the first two games — the way they stole Game 1 in Dallas in 2007 to start their epic six-game toppling — and the Nuggets have proved that they know how to defend their home court with a vengeance.

The Nuggets are deep, they are athletic, they can run away from anybody ... and they also finished this season on a 23-3 run over the past two months, enduring major injuries and the potential for a lull.

By the way, in the same time span, the Warriors went 15-13.

But the Warriors have a slightly better than blind squirrel's chance at this mainly because they have Curry, who broke the NBA single-season record for 3-pointers Wednesday night and who, if the defense cannot get multiple bodies on him throughout the game, can put up 40 to 50 to 54 in a blink.

So, as with most series involving solid teams, this breakdown starts with the best player, and the logical question: Can Denver keep Curry from dominating games with his shooting? The answer: Yes, the Nuggets probably can because they've already shown they can do a decent job vs. Curry in the regular-season series, which Denver won 3-1.

Interestingly, while Curry shot a blistering 66.7 percent from 3-point distance in the four games vs. Denver, he only averaged 18.8 points ... and that's because he only made 25.6 percent from inside the arc.

That shows how well Denver coach George Karl's scheme limited Curry — Denver has a lot of long-armed mid-sized players, and Karl likes to employ an aggressive switching defense.

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