DENVER -- The Golden State Warriors' new small-ball lineup has been so lethal that it had Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone looking for a mythic comparison to the trio of Stephen Curry Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole.
Malone said on Saturday that he had one of his assistants do some research for him.
"What's a three-headed monster in Greek mythology," Malone said he asked his assistant. "And it's like 'Cerberus.'"
According to Greek mythology, "Cerberus" was a monstrous hound, typically with three heads, watching the gates of the underworld for Hades.
The Warriors' trio have had a legendary start to their first playoff run together. As the Warriors look to complete a first-round sweep over the Nuggets in Game 4 in Denver on Sunday, Curry, Thompson and Poole are in position to become the only guard trio in the last 50 years to average 20 points per game each in a playoff series according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
They can also become just the fourth trio, regardless of position, with 20 points per game on 50% field goal shooting in a series over the last 35 postseasons according to research by ESPN Stats & Information research.
"The efficiency which they are doing it is probably more scary than anything," Malone said. "We made them work and make tough shots and that is what they do. ... One of the things we talked about is how do you take one of those three-headed monsters away."
In his first postseason as a starter, Poole is averaging 28.7 points and a robust 66.7% field goal shooting, including a scorching 59.1% from behind the arc. Curry is averaging 25.7 points in 25.0 minutes off the bench as he makes his way back from a left foot injury. Thompson is averaging 22 points per game in the series.
The Nuggets tried to get physical with the guards, especially Poole. They could be seen banging the guard off the ball at times in an attempt to wear Poole down. Still, Poole shot 9-for-13 and scored 27 points in the 118-113 Game 3 win. Poole is the first guard with 25 points on 60% shooting in three straight playoff games since the merger (1976-77) according to research by ESPN Stats & Information research.
Curry matched the 27 points in 31 minutes, and Thompson added 26 points.
"They're shooting into a big hoop right now," Denver point guard Monte Morris said after practice on Saturday. "Last game, you saw we were in attack mode, just running and being more physical. That is the most physical we've been the whole series. And you see it, it frustrated them. They had a lot of turnovers during that stretch... we kind of changed the face of the game just being physical and that showed us something."
Morris added: "It's a pride thing but it's just going to be like, hoop freely, have fun, get the win and get ready to go back to San Fran (for a potential Game 5). That is our goal. That is our agenda."
Rookie Bones Hyland said the Nuggets were incredibly loose in what could have been their last practice of the season.
"Ain't no pressure," Hyland said. "All the pressure on them. We just came into today's practice, I felt like everybody was themselves today. Nobody's tight, everybody's loose. I think everybody is feeling good about themselves. We had a great practice.
" ... I think this is what we needed honestly. I think this is a good sign for us... Honestly for the past week, everybody was so tight. I guess it is because we are playing a great team and everybody is trying to play good."