In Game 5, the Nuggets held off a Warriors rally to stay alive. Steph Curry got into it with a Denver fan. Mark Jackson accused the Nuggets of intentionally trying to hurt Curry. Players from both teams accused each other of playing dirty. This series is turning ugly, and fun.
After Denver's 107-100 win to send the series back to Oakland, Curry heard something he didn't like while leaving the court. He turned back to confront a young fan who had been yelling at him, walked toward and pointed at the fan before being led away by his teammates. Afterward, Curry didn't want to get into what had been discussed.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson was less circumspect. In his press conference, after a game that saw Curry and Kosta Koufos receive technicals, while Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green were whistled for flagrant fouls, Jackson accused the Nuggets of specifically targeting Curry's left ankle, sprained during his great Game 2 performance.
"They tried to send hit men at Steph," Jackson said. "The screen on Curry by the foul line is a shot at his ankle, clearly, it can't be debated. I have inside information that some people don't like that brand of basketball and they clearly didn't co-sign it, so they wanted to let me know that they had no part in what was taking place."
Naturally, reporters took these quotes and went running to the Nuggets dressing room. Denver's response? They started it.
- Kenneth Faried: "That's intriguing because I think they were purposefully trying to hurt me every play I went for a rebound—the hits, the grab to the throat, just the negative stuff you usually don't see in the regular season that's not getting called in the playoffs."
- Andre Iguodala: "I think I've taken the hardest hit in the series, Game 1 or 2, when Bogut leaned in to me on a screen. And I didn't remember what happened the rest of the game. I think they kind of brought the physicality to the series. And we stopped being the receivers and we're starting to hit back a little bit."
- Ty Lawson:“We’re not dirty at all. If you watch the first games, you see Bogut chucking people, Festus [Ezeli] hitting me for no reason. It’s not dirty, we’re just trying to even it out."
Even Nuggets coach George Karl got in on it, asking, "Did Draymond Green play football or basketball at Michigan State?"
This is all gamesmanship, of course. Ahead of one, maybe two more games in this closely contested series, each team wants the officials to be extra vigilant when it comes to calling fouls against the other side. That's what Mark Jackson means when he says, "I'm trying to protect my guys."
Game 6 is Thursday, and the Nuggets will have their backs against the wall, in an Oracle Arena that's decidedly unfriendly even for the calmest of games. What does the ugliest and most entertaining first-round series have left in store? More elbows? Fan altercations? Blood? Elimination?