OAKLAND -- Jarrett Jack didn't exactly have nightmares about 37-year-old Andre Miller outplaying him so badly in the Denver Nuggets' 97-95 Game 1 playoff win over the Warriors Saturday afternoon.
Miller scored 28 points in 27 minutes in the opening victory, including the game-winning layup in the final seconds, and many of his points came at the expense of Jack. But with two days to stew and study what went wrong, the Warriors guard turned the tables in Game 2, scoring 26 points with seven assists and generally being a catalyst of Golden State's 131-117 victory.
Jack admitted Wednesday that Miller's Game 1 performance got to him.
"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "Coach (Mark Jackson) always preaches that you want to have a little individual pride about your own matchup, and the way me and him are kind of inserted into our teams, it's kind of a mano y mano type thing. But you don't make it personal. You don't try to go and do what he did so it'll kind of be a wash. I just wanted to come out and be more aggressive."
That he did. With Denver spreading the floor defensively to try and contain the long-range shooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Jack repeatedly penetrated for key buckets inside as well as making passes to Warriors frontcourt players. It served to discombobulate the Nuggets' defense throughout the game.
Jackson wasn't surprised that his prized sixth man, who he named as a surprise starter for Game 2 in the absence of power forward David Lee, responded in such a big way after Miller took him to the woodshed in Game 1.
"That's who he is, the guy is a gamer," Jackson said. "He has same mind-set and the same makeup as Andre Miller. Both of those guys. Even though he almost had a triple double in Game 1 (10 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds), he knew he didn't play his basketball. Andre Miller clearly outplayed him in Game 1.
"But Jack is a guy, like Andre Miller, they have a chip, they have an edge, and you appreciate guys like that," Jackson continued. "So I knew he was going to bounce back. He really set the tone early. I thought he was very aggressive. He gave us another ball-handler on the floor, another playmaker, and he's another guy who embraces the bright lights."
With two days between Game 1 and Game, Jack said he studied a lot of film to try and develop a new tact.
"I was just a little upset at myself," he said. "I didn't feel I was aggressive as I could have been, trying to be the floor general out there. I re-watched (Game 1) two or three times — and I actually watched a couple of games we played in Denver in the regular season — trying to find some things where we had success against them and then implement them into our game plan."
Penetrating the key was one of them. With the preoccupation to stop Curry and Thompson around the perimeter, he knew he would find space to operate in the paint.
"(Curry and Thompson) create a lot of indecision between defenders, which allows guys like myself and others to go to the basket," he said. "Those guys do a tremendous job stretching the floor for us, and they know if the defense is late, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion we're going to score."