Michael Malone and Denver Nuggets are still trying to tame Golden State Warriors ‘three-headed monsters’
DENVER — The Golden State Warriors’ new small-ball lineup has been so deadly that Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone has sought a mythical comparison to the trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole.
Malone said Saturday he had one of his assistants do some research for him.
“What is a three-headed monster in Greek mythology,” Malone told his assistant. “And it’s like ‘Cerberus’.”
According to Greek mythology, “Cerberus” was a monstrous dog, usually with three heads, guarding the gates of the underworld for Hades.
The Warriors trio got off to a legendary start to their first playoff series together. As the Warriors look to complete a first-round sweep over the Nuggets in Game 4 in Denver on Sunday, Curry, Thompson and Poole are poised to become the only trio of guards in the past 50 years to average 20 points. per game each in a playoff according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
They can also become the fourth line, regardless of position, with 20 points per game on 50% shooting in a series over the past 35 playoffs according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“How effectively they do it is probably scarier than anything,” Malone said. “We had them work and do some hard punches and that’s what they do. … One of the things we talked about is how do you take out one of those three-headed monsters.”
In his first postseason as a starter, Poole is averaging 28.7 points and a solid 66.7% field goal, including a searing 59.1% from behind the arc. Curry is averaging 25.7 points in 25.0 minutes off the bench as he returns from a left foot injury. Thompson is averaging 22 points per game in the series.
The Nuggets tried to get physical with guards, especially Poole. They could be seen hitting the ball guard at times in an attempt to wear down Poole. Still, Poole shot 9-for-13 and scored 27 points in the 118-113 Game 3 victory. Poole is the leading guard with 25 points on 60 percent shooting in three straight playoff games since the merger (1976-77) according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Curry tied all 27 points in 31 minutes and Thompson added 26 points.
“They’re shooting a big hoop right now,” Denver point guard Monte Morris said after practice Saturday. “Last game, you saw we were in attack mode, just running and being more physical. It was the most physical we’ve been in the whole series. And you see, it got them frustrated. They had a lot of turnovers during that time. … we kind of changed the face of the game just by being physical and that showed us something.”
Morris added: “It’s about pride, but it’s going to be like, hoop free, having fun, winning and getting ready to go back to San Francisco (for a potential Game 5). That’s our goal. C is our agenda.”
Rookie Bones Hyland said the Nuggets were incredibly loose in what could have been their last practice of the season.
“There’s no pressure,” Hyland said. “All the pressure on them. We just got into training today, I felt like everyone was themselves today. No one is tight, everyone is loose. I think everyone is feeling good about themselves. We had a great practice.
“…I think that’s what we needed honestly. I think that’s a good sign for us…Honestly, last week everyone was so tight. I guess that’s because we are playing against a great team and everyone is trying to play well.”