Game 6 between the visiting Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors should be quite the interesting affair Thursday night.
After the Nuggets won Tuesday to stave off elimination, Warriors' coach Mark Jackson accused Denver of some unsavory behavior.
"Some dirty plays early," Jackson said after the game. "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."
Jackson was especially unnerved by the treatment of his star player, Steph Curry. Jackson believed Denver forward Kenneth Faried specifically targeted Curry's ankle on a play when Curry went through the lane.
Jackson stuck to his guns the day after.
"If you go to his ankles, try to kick his ankles, while he's cutting through the lane, that's not a basketball play," Jackson after practice on Wednesday. "That's a cheap shot."
Could this just be posturing by Jackson, maybe trying to buy a call for Game 6?
"I didn't say anything about the referees," Jackson said. "I've got a guy that some would say is a superstar, with the ball in his hands for 42 minutes and he doesn't get to the line, with a team that's trying to be very physical with him. That needs to be looked at."
To the surprise of exactly no one, Denver head coach George Karl disagrees.
"I'm just trying to figure out what movie he's watching. It's not the one I'm watching," Karl said.
And Faried leaped to his own defense.
"I wasn't going for his ankle at all," Faried said. "He walked through and I was just giving him a bump, like, 'Hey, we're not going to let you shoot and have the type of night you've been having.' I was just being a little physical."
It's worth noting that the Warriors, not the Nuggets, were whistled for two Flagrant fouls in Game 5.
"That doesn't mean you're dirty," Jackson said on Wednesday.
It remains to be seen how the complexion of the series will change after these charges by the Warriors. One thing that's clear, the Nuggets do not believe themselves to be dirty players.
"I guarantee that I've never wanted to hurt anybody in basketball, but I do want my team to compete and play hard," Karl said. "I've always been a play- hard coach. Any player that's every played for me, the most speeches they get are play hard and stand up and be a competitor."
Now, it's Game 6 in Oakland where the Warriors have a chance to win their first playoff series since 2007 and second since 1991.
On Tuesday, the Nuggets built a 20-point halftime lead, but the Warriors hung in, especially during the final quarter. The final was only 107-100.
Denver had six players in double figures, led by Andre Iguodala. He finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Ty Lawson and Faried both had double-doubles.
Dirty or not, the Nuggets' strategy worked in Game 5. Curry only had 15 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Harrison Barnes paced the Warriors with 23 points, followed by Jarrett Jack with 20, Klay Thompson's 19 and Curry.
The Warriors are 5-1 in their last six at home against Denver.
If the Nuggets prevail on Thursday, Game 7 will be back in Denver on Saturday.