Warriors observations: Clutch Steph Curry, Jordan Poole give Dubs 3-0 lead

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What we learned as Dubs come through in clutch, take 3-0 lead originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

DENVER -- Three down, one to go.

It wasn't easy, it wasn't pretty -- far from it -- but the Warriors clawed their way to a 118-113 Game 3 win over the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena in their first-round playoff series after trailing going into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors were bullied on the glass, went hot and cold from downtown, had too many sloppy passes and bad turnovers, plus missed far too many free throws. Nuggets star Nikola Jokic proved why he's about to win his second straight MVP too, scoring 37 points with 18 rebounds and five assists.

Jordan Poole played through left elbow pain and scored 27 points, Klay Thompson dropped 26 and Steph Curry -- in his third straight game off the bench -- scored 27 as he played 31 minutes, his highest of the series.

This isn't how they pictured it, but the Warriors entered a hostile environment and came out with the all-important Game 3 win.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors taking a three-games-to-none lead on the Nuggets.

Live By The 3, Die By The 3

The Warriors are going to let it fly from the 3-point line. That we know. And Steve Kerr will live with it most of the time.

But Golden State couldn't have been streakier behind the line in Denver. In the first quarter, they went 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and 9-for-11 on 2-point shots. The Warriors then made six of their first seven 3-pointers in second quarter before opening the third and going completely cold.

Six of their first seven shots in the third quarter were 3-pointers. Only one went through the net. They went 2-for-9 for the quarter and entered the fourth down by two.

In the fourth, the Warriors went 4-for-10 and shot 45 percent on 40 3-point attempts for the night.

Speaking of 3-pointers ...

GP ... 3?

Gary Payton II made an immediate impact off the bench, draining a 3-pointer and finishing a fastbreak layup on back-to-back possessions upon entering. His defense always will be his calling card, but it was his stroke from long distance that made a huge difference in the Warriors' Game 3 win.

As Curry and Co. drove to the hoop, Jokic sagged off Payton and dared him to shoot from deep. Payton accepted the challenge and Denver paid the price. In the first half alone, he was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and made all three of his wide-open 3-point attempts, giving him 11 points in his first nine minutes.

Payton has proven time and time again that he can be the perfect energizer for the Warriors off the bench. If he can hit shots like this, though -- good luck to Golden State's opponents. Oh yeah, his defense was pretty important too, helping him finish as a plus-10 in 14 minutes off the bench.

Get That Sweep

Kerr and Curry made it clear ahead of Game 3 that the Warriors weren't looking past the Nuggets and first had to take care of business Thursday night. They barely did, and now they have to have a sweep on their mind.

Poole gave all Warriors fans a scare when he had to exit for a period of time and was stuck to the bench with a heating pad on his left elbow. Draymond Green rolled his left ankle and gutted his way through the rest of the game. Curry still is recovering from a left foot sprain, and Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. didn't play both games of a back-to-back in the regular season.

Get that fourth win and enjoy a long rest.

The Warriors, especially after Thursday night, know a sweep won't be easy when they face the Nuggets again on Sunday. It's never been more important.

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