Andrew Wiggins keeps making clutch winning plays for Warriors

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Wiggins just keeps making winning plays for the Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

DENVER -- There are countless problems with people using the nickname "PTSD" for the Warriors' new small-ball lineup that has caused pain and agony for the Denver Nuggets through three games -- all Golden State wins -- in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The P is for Jordan Poole, the T is for Klay Thompson, the S is for Steph Curry and the D is for Draymond Green. News flash: The Warriors aren't out there playing 4-on-5 and the fifth member of the group, Andrew Wiggins, has been key to all three wins. There also was a brief moment in the fourth quarter of the Warriors' 118-113 Game 3 win Thursday night over the Nuggets at Ball Arena where it looked like Steve Kerr would stick with Andre Iguodala, a key member of the original Death Lineup and Hamptons Five, instead of Wiggins.

At the time, Wiggins was having a mostly quiet night, at least by the box score, and Iguodala is one of the game's smartest players with years of playoff experience in his back pocket. Kerr wasn't done with Wiggins, though.

"As soon as the game shifted and we knew we needed more offense, went to Wiggs and stepped up and knocked down that big corner three, which I thought was the shot of the game," Kerr said after the win.

Upon his return to the floor, Wiggins had the ball in his hands for an open 3-point attempt from the left corner -- his happy spot all season long. The score was tied at 109 apiece with 3:38 remaining. Clank. He missed and the Nuggets took the lead 18 seconds later.

But just 33 seconds later, it was redemption time for Wiggins from the exact same spot. This time, the Warriors trailed by two and had just taken a timeout after the Nuggets took the lead.

He could have hesitated, he could have opted for two points to tie it up. The moment Poole hit him with a pass right in his shooting pocket, Wiggins settled his feet and let it fly from behind the line. Splash, Warriors lead by one.

Wiggins wasn't done there, though. Rejuvenated coming out of the timeout, Wiggins defended the 7-foot, 284-pound Nikola Jokic in the post, contested his shot and the reigning MVP who dominated for most of the game missed his turnaround. With the ball back in the Warriors' hands, Wiggins again came through, this time with his effort.

As Curry's 3-point attempt came up short with the Warriors up by one, Wiggins zeroed in on the rim, flew in from the left side and grabbed a huge offensive rebound. The Warriors were bullied all night long on the glass and had just one offensive rebound through the first three quarters. His offensive rebound led to two acrobatic points from Poole, giving the Warriors a three-point lead with 2:15 left.

With Curry's 3-point attempt hanging in the air, three Nuggets -- Monte Morris, Will Barton and Jeff Green -- watched and waited for what they figured would be an easy rebound. Wiggins could have let that happened and ran back on defense. That wasn't the case.

Effort wins.

"He's been doing the little stuff all three games this series," Green said of Wiggins. "No one really talks about it, but we as his teammates, we see it, we appreciate it and we need him to continue doing those things."

RELATED: Warriors show championship mettle in Game 3 win

The win was Wiggins' first on the road in the playoffs after dropping his previous three in Houston during his only playoff trip with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2018. It was the third straight game that he led the Warriors in rebounds, too.

It's pretty clear as part of the Warriors' small-ball lineup, that Curry, Poole and Thompson are going to get their buckets. Green has been a defensive menace but can't put up huge rebounding numbers at 6-foot-6 guarding big men who usually tower over him. Then there's Wiggins. For the group to be as dominant as it has at times, the Warriors need him to pick up the pieces, hit open shots and use his athleticism to clean up on the glass.

When the going got tough, he did just that, for the third straight game to give the Warriors a commanding three-games-to-none lead over the Nuggets, setting up a possible sweep and needed rest for this Golden State team.

Keep having fun with nicknames. Just don't leave out a key part to what matters most: Wins.

That's what Wiggins has provided so far in these playoffs to the Warriors.

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