Programming note: Coverage of Game 3 between the Warriors and Nuggets begins Friday night at 7 PT on CSN Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live, followed by playoff basketball at 7:30, and Warriors Postgame Live after the final horn.
OAKLAND-- For anyone whose paid much attention to the Warriors this year, coach Mark Jackson's proclamation Tuesday that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson make up "the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game" likely didn't come as much of a surprise.
His praise of the backcourt's shooting ability, while sometimes bordering on hyperbolic, hasn't wavered all season. So after the duo combined to go 9-of-16 from three and 21-of-34 from the field in the Warriors' 131-117 win against Denver, it was as good a time as any for Jackson to continue to hammer a message he's long been preaching.
And a day later, his tune didn't change.
"I've watched the history of the game and as player, as a fan, as an announcer, as a young kid and I've not ever seen two guys in the same backcourt shoot as well as these two guys," Jackson said. Better than the Lakers backcourt of Jerry West and Gail Goodrich?
"Well, I humbling submit to you that I've seen Jerry West and Gail Goodrich and it's no disrespect to them," Jackson said. "I was a guy that's not guessing. Those were two good shooters. I'm dealing with two great shooters. I'm talking about great."
[PLAYOFF CENTRAL: Warriors Nuggets -- The Gold War]
The potential for bias is obvious, but the numbers backup Jackson's case. It's difficult to compare shooters from before the 3-point era to those of today -- no incentive to shoot deeper shots, thus less incentive to practice those shots -- but since the 3-point shot was introduced in the 1979-80 season, there are few combinations that compare to Curry and Thompson.
Before this year, four sets of teammates -- not limited to just guards -- combined for over 400 made threes in a season, but none were as accurate as Curry and Thompson this season (42.9 percent from three). They hit 483 threes to shatter the previous record (435) set by Orlando's Dennis Scott (267) and Nick Anderson (168) in 1995-96.
Scott and Anderson were beneficiaries of a lot of open looks thanks to the attention the Magic's two leading scorers, Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, garnered throughout the year. That's not the case for Golden State, on which Curry is the primary scorer and there is not a consistent scorer on the low block to elevate pressure outside.
Jackson's not saying they are the best scoring backcourt of all-time or best backcourt of all-time. He's strictly talking about shooting.
Still, the best? Ever?
While the knee-jerk reaction is to say "absurd," it's hard to find a statistical argument that points elsewhere.
Home Court Advantage Now in Warriors Favor
Yes, the Warriors are now owners of home-court advantage in their first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, but in beating the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday, they taught themselves home court is no guarantee.
Denver took the NBA's best home court record (38-3) into the postseason, but that didn't translate.
When the "We Believe" Warriors upset Dallas in the first-round of the 2006-07 playoffs, Mark Jackson was set to broadcast an 'if-necessary' game at Oracle Arena, but the game wasn't needed. Six years later, he's anxious to see what what the energy is like.
Even on TV, something resonated for Jackson about the Oracle crowd.
"You can feel the intensity, you can feel the enthusiasm, the excitement in the building. It was incredible," he said. "I look forward to being part of it on Friday and on Sunday."
It did come with a disclaimer though: "That being said, I will not and my team will not be tricked into believing the crowd can score a basket or get a stop."
-- Rookie Harrison Barnes set his career-high with 24 points in the Game 2 win. He is the first Warriors rookie with 20-plus points in a playoff game since Billy Owens.
-- Curry's 30 points and 13 assists were a Warriors playoff first since Sleepy Floyd in 1987.
-- No Warrior shot less than 50 percent from the field in Game 2 as the team set a franchise record shooting 64.6 percent. It was the best playoff shooting performance in the NBA since Utah shot 65.1 in 1991.
-- The Warriors' Development League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, begin play in the D-League Finals on Thursday at home against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Former Warrior Jeremy Tyler is the team's leading scorer during the postseason (24.5 ppg).