Dave Krieger has been a guest-host on 850 KOA since 2005. Now, Dave is heard every weekday afternoon on The Dave Logan Show.
"I've had a blast as a guest host on 850 KOA over the past several years and I'm grateful for the opportunity to join their team on a full-time basis," Krieger said. "I look forward to partnering with Dave Logan, a friend for more than 25 years, in the competitive landscape of PM drive. As I've recently discovered, thanks to the web, 850 KOA's reach now includes the entire country."
Since 2009, Dave was a popular columnist with The Denver Post. Before that, he spent 27 years with the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News as a cityside reporter, Broncos and Nuggets beat writer and longtime sports columnist. He won various state and national awards during a newspaper career that spanned 36 years.
Dave was named the 2011 Colorado sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He also won the award in 2010 and 2009 and shared it in 2008 with former Rocky Mountain News colleague Tracy Ringolsby.
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was playing to the three guys who will suit up as referees for Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday night. Otherwise, Mark Jackson's whine about the dirty, dastardly Nuggets following the Warriors' 107-100 loss in Game 5 sounded like the indignation of a schoolyard bully who finally got his.
For their part, the Nuggets should take it as a compliment. It's the first time in history they've been mistaken for the Bad Boys.
"They were the more physical team," Jackson said. "They were the aggressor. They hurt us in the first half scoring the basketball, points in the paint. Made us pay for our turnovers. They tried to send hit men on Steph. But give them credit. It wasn't cocky basketball. They outplayed us. It wasn't magic. They outplayed us."
Uh, hold on, you sort of buried the lead there, Mark. Hit men?
"You know, some dirty plays early," he said. "It's playoff basketball. That's all right. We own it. But make no mistake about it: We went up 3-1 playing hard, physical, clean basketball, not trying to hurt anybody."
Self-righteousness has always been a Jackson trait , but this was a dizzying passive-aggressive two-step in which every allegation of malfeasance was accompanied by an assurance that it was fine; to be expected, in fact, in playoff basketball. Thus his assessment of Kenneth Faried's performance:
"He set some great screens, and some great illegal ones, too. He did his job. Hey, I played with guys like that. You're paid to do that. Dale Davis, Anthony Davis, Charles Oakley. You're paid to do it. So give 'em credit. But, as an opposing coach, I see it, and I'm trying to protect my guys."
It is not clear, exactly, how whining in public about one of the softer teams in the NBA protects his guys, unless it's an attempt to influence the next officiating crew, in which case it might be delivered more effectively the day before Game 6 so it's all over the media during the 24 hours those referees are in town preparing to do the game.
Jackson takes many things personally and this was one of them. That line about how the Nuggets' win wasn't magic? That had been simmering 48 hours. Nuggets coach George Karl used the word after Game 4 to describe the Warriors' incredible shooting -- .530 through the first four games, .576 in their three wins.
"The next 48 hours is going to be difficult, to say the least," Karl said then. "They've found some magic and we got to somehow take it away from them."
Apparently, this qualifies as disrespect these days. I don't know who described the Warriors as "cocky," but Jackson got back at him, too.
The Nuggets were by turns perplexed and amused.
"They play dirty every night," said Faried, who was shoved to the floor beyond the baseline by Warriors center Andrew Bogut in perhaps the most replayed scene of the series so far. "And they target me. Every rebound, they try to hit me and try to hurt me. It's basketball."
Faried, like Steph Curry, the Warriors guard Jackson said was targeted by hit men, is recovering from a sprained ankle.
"I think I've taken the hardest hit throughout the series," said Andre Iguodala, the star of the Nuggets' Game 5 victory. "I think it was Game 1 or 2. Bogut leaned into me. Fullcourt screen. And I didn't remember what happened the rest of the game. So I think they kind of brought the physicality to the series and we've just stopped being the receivers and we're starting to hit back a little bit."
The only specific play Jackson cited was a glancing collision between Faried and Curry at the free throw line that sent Curry sprawling. From my vantage point, I couldn't tell if Faried tripped him or gave him a little hip or knee check on the way by. Either way, it was a message that Curry no longer had a letter of transit through Denver's defense.
This is pretty mild stuff by NBA playoff standards, as Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith confirmed in their conversation on TNT later that night. They agreed nothing particularly heinous had occurred in the Nuggets-Warriors game and that Jackson's remarks were ill-advised. Then they showed video of truly dirty playoff fouls.
Jackson's fusillade did manage to divert the Game 5 storyline from the fact that his marvelous shooters did, for one night anyway, lose their magic touch. The Warriors shot a rather mortal .432 and Curry, the star of the series so far, made just one of seven three-point attempts.
Superficially, at least, the difference was that Karl went back to a standard NBA lineup. He had abandoned it first when Faried sprained his ankle just before the end of the regular season and then because center Kosta Koufos was such a stiff in the first two games of the series, especially the second, when the Warriors became just the fourth visitor all season to win on Denver's home floor.
After Jackson lost power forward David Lee to a torn hip flexor in Game 1, he moved small forward Harrison Barnes to power forward and added guard Jarrett Jack, making it a three-guard lineup. In Games 3 and 4, Karl followed suit, keeping small forward Wilson Chandler at power forward, a position he'd assumed during Faried's absence. Faried moved from power forward to center and Koufos moved to the bench. With Faried still hampered by the ankle, this lineup was so small that it was obliterated on the boards, usually a Nuggets strength.
Jackson got a lot of credit for this tactical move, which was shrouded in a strangely transparent ruse. In each of the Warriors' wins, he offered for pre-game introductions a lineup in which a traditional power forward, Carl Landry, was in Lee's place. Then, when it was time to actually start the game, he deployed the one with Jack in Lee's place and Landry on the bench. If Karl took offense as easily as Jackson does, he might have viewed this odd gamesmanship as an attempt to deceive him.
In any case, Karl went back to a standard lineup for Game 5, but substituted JaVale McGee, his erratic but athletically sensational backup center, for Koufos. The Nuggets led 36-22 after one and 66-46 at intermission.
When I asked Jackson about this tactical move, he declared it irrelevant.
"We lost the game because they scored in the paint, we turned the basketball over, they got it going in transition and we made mistakes," he said. "No matter who's on the floor, when we play our brand of basketball, we'll be just fine. We put together a run with small guys on the floor, so it has nothing to do with size. We have to stay true to who we are."
When Jackson went small in the second half, Karl matched up and the Nuggets' big lead -- 22 at its height -- melted away. The Warriors got within five three times in the final minutes. I asked Karl why he thought that happened.
"We can go to switching more of their pick-and-rolls and play smaller or we can go bigger and try to rotate," he said. "That's a game-time decision for us most of the time. I think we actually slowed down more in the second half. We only scored 41 points in the second half. We somehow got to get enough energy on the court to keep the tempo and pace fast."
As if anticipating Jackson's allegations, which came minutes later, Karl closed his interview session with a joke, an unprompted rhetorical question:
"Did Draymond Green play football or basketball at Michigan State?"
Green is the Warriors' 6-foot-7, 230-pound, rookie defensive specialist. He managed four personal fouls in 14 minutes of action.
The Nuggets desperately needed a big game from somebody other than Ty Lawson and they got it from Iguodala, who put up 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The last Nugget to post 25 and 12 in a playoff game was LaPhonso Ellis. Throw in the assists and you have to go back to Fat Lever.
"Honestly, I didn't really change anything from the last two or three games," Iguodala said. "I felt like Game 2, the shot felt really well. Same with the two games in Oakland. I feel really good in that arena. So I didn't change too much. I just tried to be a little more assertive once I got the ball because either I'm going to make a play for someone else or I can make a play for myself. So the guys relied on me to do that tonight."
In fact, Iguodala has been shooting well in the series -- he was at .512 from the field and .400 from long distance going into Game 5; those numbers are .534 and .429 now -- but not to nearly as much effect. He was averaging 14.8 points a game before his 25-point explosion.
The Nuggets also got a big first half from Chandler, who struggled through the first four games, shooting .356. Chandler's splits alone may account for the big first half lead and the disappearing second half lead. He had 16 before halftime, three after.
Still, the big story heading into Game 6 will be the allegations of dirty play, even if Jackson's coach on the floor, Jack, didn't seem to share the perception.
"It was good defense and we welcome good defense," he said of the Nuggets. "It felt like good defense. We liked it. There is nothing further to it. We're a close-knit bunch, a battle-tested bunch; nothing can get us out of our character. I don't even know what you're talking about."
Iguodala knew, and he was pretty sure it went both ways.
"Are the Warriors taking cheap shots?" he asked, repeating a question. "I think it's just part of the big game of basketball. I've been hit a few times and I've wondered who it was or how they caught me. I had to go back on tape because I've been hit with some shots and it wasn't a ghost hitting me."
In Mark Jackson's brain, there was a certain intrigue to the starting lineups for Game 2 of the Nuggets-Warriors playoff series Tuesday night.
Kenneth Faried, the Nuggets' power forward who missed Game 1 with a sprained ankle, was cleared to return, but his coach, George Karl, told reporters he would bring him off the bench rather than return him immediately to the starting lineup.
Karl tends to be more transparent about such things than some coaches because he figures his opponent will know soon enough anyway. If he says he's not starting Faried and then he does, it would be a simple matter for Jackson to alter his own lineup in response, or to substitute early if he felt the matchups were going against him.
But Jackson, in his first playoff series as a head coach, thought Karl, an old hand, might be trying to snooker him. Knowing the visiting team's lineup would be introduced first, he sent out a group that included Carl Landry at power forward, replacing the injured David Lee. Landry would be a suitable matchup for Faried.
When the Nuggets did what Karl said he would do, starting Wilson Chandler in Faried's big forward spot, Jackson called Landry back and replaced him with guard Jarrett Jack, giving the Warriors a smaller, three-guard lineup.
Why didn't Landry actually take the floor after being introduced with the starters?
"I'm not really sure," Jackson said. "He may have had to go to the bathroom or something."
So Jackson didn't change his mind between introductions and tipoff?
"No," he said. "Just covering all the bases."
In other words, if Faried was in the Nuggets' lineup, Jackson had Landry ready to match up. If he wasn't, Jackson would make a last-minute switch. The decision had actually been made earlier in the day.
"I came to my coaches early this morning," Jackson recounted. "I said, 'Am I crazy to start Harrison (Barnes) at the four (big forward)? I mean, somebody talk me out of it.' They all just smiled and they co-signed it. And I knew it was the right thing."
If Karl or any member of his staff was surprised by the last-minute change, it didn't show. The effect of Jackson's decision was to go small against a small Nuggets lineup that also featured three guards -- Ty Lawson, Evan Fournier and Andre Iguodala. The Nuggets held their own early, winning the first quarter 28-26. It was their only competitive episode of the evening.
"Did it throw us off?" Karl asked, repeating the question. "I mean, we play small as much as any team. The first quarter, we actually had somewhat control of what was going on. So we kind of knew what was going on."
Whatever happened after that, it should have been accompanied by alcoholic beverages of some kind. The Nuggets saved their biggest stinker of the six-month season -- a 131-117 blowout that was even worse than it sounds -- for the first round of the playoffs. It's like an allergy or something.
The game takes its place in the Nuggets' book of dubious records. It was not only the most points scored against the Nuggets this season, it was the most scored against them in a playoff game in 23 years. It was the most scored against anybody in a playoff game in 18 years.
The Warriors' 14 three-pointers were a new record for a Denver playoff opponent. The Nuggets collected a total of 26 rebounds, their most meager postseason total ever. Faried, the rebounding Manimal, had two in 21 minutes.
You get the idea. The Warriors made nearly two of every three shots, an astounding shooting percentage of .646. It's been 22 years since anybody had a bigger number in the playoffs.
When I asked Karl if it was his team's worst defensive performance of the season, he didn't argue.
"I would think so," he said glumly. "I can't recall another one. We didn't do very much of anything very well. Pick and rolls, give up the paint, three ball, transition.
"We let their shooters get into the game, and the frustration of covering shooters making shots broke down our team concepts some. Our shot selection offensively broke down and that gave them the fast break a lot of times. I don't think I've ever coached a game where a team got three 35-point quarters, maybe in my career. I don't remember that."
After that first quarter, the Warriors' shots rained down from everywhere and everyone. Jack hit 10 of 15, Barnes nine of 14, Klay Thompson eight of 11 and Steph Curry 13 of 23. Success energized the Warriors. Failure drained the Nuggets. The Warriors moved the ball until the Nuggets quit chasing it, then made the open shots.
Iguodala had the hot hand for the Nuggets early, hitting five of six first-quarter shots, including two three-pointers, and doing his part to fire up the full house as he ran back up the court. He got only five more attempts the rest of the game, and he didn't seem that happy about it.
"We have so many guys who are attacking," he said. "We've got to stick with some things that if they're working, we've got to continue to go with it. But they went zone in the second half and kind of threw us out of our rhythm a little bit. And it kind of takes away from one guy being able to attack."
Chandler, in particular, suffered in Golden State's switch at big forward to Barnes from the injured Lee.
"We matched up better on defense," Curry said. "Wilson had a huge game last game. D. Lee did a great job guarding him, but when you have Harrison able to defend him, that's a better matchup for us."
Chandler took one more shot than Barnes and scored 10 fewer points. Matched up against another natural small forward, he lost the quickness advantage he has against bigger, slower power forwards.
"Harrison Barnes, for a rookie, hasn't been getting the respect that he deserves," Jackson said. "A rookie that starts for a No. 6 seed all year long, defends, doesn't kill you with numbers but does everything the right way."
Barnes said Jackson didn't tell him he was going to play big forward until he was about to walk out on the court for the opening tip.
"I think Carl even came out in the starting lineup when they announced it," Curry said. "So I think Jack knew right before the game started that that was what we were going to do. He was ready for it. We had that lineup a lot during games, but just a different look to start with it. But defensively I think it helped us to start the game that way."
Having removed the Nuggets' matchup advantage, the Warriors proved better, for one night anyway, at pretty much every position. Curry put up a dazzling line of 30 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, three steals and one turnover. Thompson scored 21 points on only 11 shots. He took six threes and made five.
"We've got guys that can knock down shots," Jackson said. "When you talk about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, in my opinion they're the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game. And I'm a guy that's just not throwing that out there. I followed basketball my entire life. Not only played, covered it, but I was a fan as a kid. I watched the great players. And these two guys are absolutely off the charts. I would have put Reggie Miller and myself in there, but I held him down."
So the Nuggets got smoked. What do they do now? Games 3 and 4 are in Oakland this weekend. New schemes? New lineups? Try harder?
"We're going to have to play harder," Karl said. "There's no question that to win in Golden State is going to take much more energy than we've put into these two games. I'm not saying we didn't try hard. We played hard. But we didn't play hard enough. They played harder than we did.
"They made shots, they get cocky, they get enthusiastic, they get into it. They were urgent and desperate. I can't say that we didn't play hard, we just didn't play playoff hard. A little bit, I think they were more physical than we were. Their big guys hit us more than we probably banged them. The momentum and pendulum of urgency and desperation comes on our side in Golden State when we get there."
Speaking of big guys, if anybody has seen center Kosta Koufos, please alert local authorities. Somehow, the Warriors managed to outscore the Nuggets by 18 points in the 14 minutes he spent on the floor. Might this be an opportune time to start JaVale McGee? Or does Faried, who was ineffective off the bench, return to the starting lineup?
"I'll evaluate everything," Karl said. "We will evaluate everything. And we will try to make the adjustments that put the best team out there for more minutes than we did tonight, and that won't be that difficult."
Each playoff game is its own story, and one doesn't necessarily influence the next. But the Warriors were the more aggressive, skilled team in the first two games of the series. Only Andre Miller's miraculous 18-point fourth quarter in Game 1 prevented the visitors from winning both.
"This series is far from over," Jackson said. "We've got a tremendous amount of respect for them and they're more than capable of coming into Oracle (Arena) and beating us. So we've got to relax, and then we've got to get back to work."
The Warriors are much better outside shooters, so the Nuggets have to do what they did all season, which is get to the rim. But they aren't rebounding, the catalyst for the fast break, and the Warriors are frustrating penetration by turning to a zone defense at times that turns the Nuggets into jump shooters or turnover machines.
Curry has been better than Lawson. Thompson has been more efficient than Iguodala. Barnes outplayed Chandler in Game 2. And Koufos vs. Andrew Bogut has been no contest.
"This process has just begun," Karl said. "We've beaten this team four out of six games. Someone's always said the series doesn't begin until someone wins on the other team's court. Now the series in a lot of ways, the process has begun."
Well, if we're in a battle of cliches, the pressure is on the Nuggets now. They do not look like the team that finished the regular season on a 24-4 roll. Their 24-game home winning streak is over. Now we find out if they know how to counterpunch.
For most of the last two months of the NBA regular season, the Denver Nuggets seemed impermeable to bad news.
Leading scorer Ty Lawson goes down? Andre Miller takes over at the point. Miller is lost to one of the best bench units in the association? Twenty-year-old Evan Fournier steps into the rotation.
Second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari goes down? Wilson Chandler steps into the starting lineup. Chandler is lost to one of the best bench units in the association? Young Anthony Randolph steps into the rotation.
Leading rebounder Kenneth Faried goes down? The ever-versatile Chandler moves from Gallo's small forward spot to Manimal's big forward spot and Fournier, who couldn't find the floor a month ago, moves into the starting lineup.
Through it all, the ensemble kept winning -- 13 out of 15 in March, seven of eight in April. The Nuggets were 24-4 after the All-Star break. Their 57 wins were the most since the franchise joined the NBA in 1976.
They remained impermeable Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Warriors, but just barely. Miller's game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds to play was a nice story. At 37, he said it was the first game-winning shot of his long career.
On the other hand, the fact that the ageless Miller had to bail out his team with an 18-point fourth quarter -- the rest of the team scored eight -- didn't say much for anybody else. The Warriors' starting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson outscored their Denver counterparts, Lawson and Fournier, 41-23, leaving the bench a lot to make up. Miller outscored the Golden State bench by himself.
The Nuggets' finished the regular season third in the NBA in assists at 24.4 per game. They managed only 16 in their 97-95 Game 1 victory. Without that active passing game, they were forced to play one-on-one, which is not their strength. They shot .447 as a team after averaging .478 for the season. Lawson was 6-of-15, Chandler 5-of-16 and Corey Brewer 4-of-12.
"We didn't shoot the ball with much confidence all night long," coach George Karl acknowledged. "We won tonight basically because of Andre Miller and our defense . . . . It's just the beginning. One win is a good start. I think Golden State has shown that they're going to be able to play on the same level as us and we're going to have to continue to get better and continue to find other ways to win games."
One way would be to score more. The Nuggets led the league in scoring this season, averaging 106.1 points per game. They scored fewer than 100 only 19 times in 82 games. Yet the Warriors, who gave up an average of 100.2 points per game during the season, held them below 100 on Denver's home court.
"I thought we had a very good performance of executing our game plan," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We made plays. We made shots. We defended. . . . Overall, we kept a body on them. We were physical. I thought at times we were a little bit careless. That's to be expected with a young basketball team. But I'm proud of my guys. We put ourselves in position to win the ballgame; unfortunately, fell short."
If you suspect that Curry will shoot closer to his season average -- .451 -- than his Game 1 average -- .350 -- going forward, the Nuggets will need to improve their own offensive efficiency.
The good news is the war of attrition seems to be turning in their favor. Warriors all-star forward David Lee tore a hip flexor in Game 1 and was lost for the remainder of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Lawson is back from a torn plantar fascia and Faried may be sufficiently recovered from a sprained ankle to play in Game 2 on Tuesday.
"The strength of our team is we find ways to win," Karl said. "Anthony Randolph has helped us win games. Corey Brewer has been spectacular at the end of games, as our lead guy. Our big guys, you don't know who's going to perform at a high level. We don't have one guy that wins it, but Andre was obviously the guy tonight."
Miller's shot chart was characteristically unbalanced. Of his 16 field goal attempts, not one came from left of the lane. Even on the final play, when he drove the paint, going left around Warriors rookie defensive specialist Draymond Green, he slipped back to his right to make the winning layup, avoiding center Andrew Bogut, who was a tad late coming to help.
"He's a big-time defender and I've got a lot of confidence in him," Jackson said of Green. "We've got a group of rookies that came in the day after the draft, drilled every single day, got prepared and understand how to be successful on this level. And Draymond Green is an elite defender. And I feel extremely comfortable putting him on anybody, one through five. Andre Miller made a heck of a play."
Asked to compare the winner to previous big shots, Miller had a quick answer.
"Well, I never hit a game-winning shot," he said. "Never. I've taken a couple and missed or turned the ball over, but that was big for a first playoff game.
"I was tired, actually. I think both teams were tired. Me and Ty was going back and forth on who was going to get the ball -- you know, 'You bring it, I bring it.' He saw that I was in a rhythm and I was just like, just suck it up. I knew who to put in the pick and roll to get to my sweet spot and I just took the shots."
But even Miller acknowledged that with Bogut guarding the rim behind a Warriors zone defense -- Golden State outscored Denver by 10 points while the 7-footer was on the floor -- the Nuggets' offense was largely stymied.
"A lot of things went wrong," Miller said. "They got into a zone, slowed us down, we started relying on jump shots. You've got a couple young guys out there that's not out there much."
Having clawed their way back into the game in the fourth quarter without Lee, the Warriors seemed to gain confidence in defeat. Sunday's news that Lee is out for the duration may moderate that confidence, but the Warriors know they have a defensive game plan that worked in Game 1.
"We haven't played 'em since January," Curry said of the Nuggets. "Their style hadn't really changed since then. We knew what to expect. It was going to be an uptempo game. That's how we like to play as well, so we tried to implement our own strengths throughout the course of the game. Hard-fought all the way to the end. One big play by Andre Miller changed the game. So we feel good about where we are going into Game 2."
All year, the debate around the Nuggets has been whether their high-flying, rim-rattling, star-starved ensemble concept could thrive in the postseason the way it did in the regular season. Conventional wisdom says no. Even with a legitimate star in Carmelo Anthony, their full court, uptempo style got them out of the first round only once.
But they were so good in the regular season this year that they improved their postseason odds, earning home court advantage in the first round over a team that won 10 fewer games over the course of the first 82. Anything seemed possible, including gathering confidence while making quick work of their first-round opponent and giving themselves a chance to compete with the best of the West.
All of that is still possible, but the Warriors served notice in Game 1 that their strategy is to turn the Nuggets into jump shooters. If they continue to succeed at that, it's going to be a long series, because the Nuggets aren't particularly good jump shooters.
If the Nuggets are to gain credibility as a contender, they will need to dominate the Lee-less Warriors in Game 2 and demonstrate that they have an answer to the strategy that largely baffled them in Game 1.