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The Denver Nuggets don't have an obvious first option in late-game situations, which is typically seen as a red flag in the postseason. These concerns are typically overblown — a team with as many offensive options as the Nuggets can always turn to the correct option based on circumstances, not a predetermined hierarchy.
That's exactly what they did on Saturday night in the final moments of Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors. With the score tied at 95-95 and 14 seconds remaining in regulation, the Nuggets gave the ball to veteran point guard Andre Miller for the final shot. Miller took rookie defender Draymond Green off the dribble and finished a lay-up at the rim. With only 1.3 seconds left and no timeouts, Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry was unable to put up his desperation heave before the buzzer, and the Nuggets came away with the 97-95 win in a closely contested series opener.
Join us after the jump for more on Game 1, including video of Curry's game-tying three-pointer on the prior possession.
The winner capped off a stellar game for Miller, who finished with a game-high 28 points (11-of-16 shooting) in 27 minutes off the bench. Given his strong performance, it's likely that Warriors head coach Mark Jackson will receive some criticism for turning to a rookie to stop Miller one-on-one for the biggest possession of the game. On the other hand, the Warriors lack a top-tier perimeter defender. The better question is why center Andrew Bogut chose to stick with JaVale McGee instead of rushing to provide help at the rim.
This series was expected to be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair, but Game 1 featured its fair share of sloppy play. Although the pace was as expected, both teams looked gassed throughout and failed to get back in transition defense with alarming inconsistency.
The Warriors are left to wonder if they let a win slip away. Despite shooting only 41.3 percent from the field, getting a 1-of-10 first-half performance from Curry, and losing David Lee in the third quarter to what could be a serious hip injury, this game was there for the taking. With this game-tying Curry three-pointer on the game's final possession, it looked like they were in a position to do just that.
In the end, they simply had no answer for the 37-year-old Miller, who utilized all his old-man-game tricks to grab this one for the Nuggets. There's no guarantee that he'll perform to this level again in this series, but he was Denver's hero for at least one night.
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