The Golden State Warriors dropped their first game of the season on Friday, losing 128-123 to the Denver Nuggets. Hosting the Nuggets at the Chase Center, the Dubs saw firsthand why Denver is one of the early favorites to win the Western Conference.
Both teams were pushing the pace in an exciting first quarter of action. The Nuggets jumped out to an early 10-5 lead before the Dubs answered with six-straight points to take the lead.
Despite not scoring a point in the quarter, Draymond Green was a game-changer for the Warriors on Friday. Green was a force defensively, slowing down Nuggets star Nikola Jokić, and consistently pushing Golden State in transition.
Here are some takeaways:
Make or Miss League
Sometimes, perhaps often, NBA games come down to who hits and who misses their 3s.
Friday night, the Nuggets couldn’t miss and the Warriors couldn’t buy one.
Golden State started 5-for-19 from deep. Most of the looks were wide open, created by quick ball movement and pushing in transition. The shots just weren’t falling. Not even from their best shooters.
Denver, meanwhile, sank both open and contested tries. They generated open shots in the halfcourt with drives and out of the post.
Jeff Green started 2-for-2. Michael Porter Jr. hit three of his first four. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got hot. Denver put up 40 points in the first frame.
To build an 18-point halftime lead, Denver shot 8-for-14 from 3. Two minutes into the second half, Porter Jr. drilled a stepback 3 over Andrew Wiggins to push Denver’s lead back to 18.
In the game, the Nuggets shot 15-for-34 (44.1%) from deep. The Warriors also sunk 15, but on 44 tries — including Klay Thompson’s wild misfire that would have tied the game late.
The Poole-Wiseman connection
Early in the first quarter, two defenders converged on Jordan Poole on the right wing. In response, he slipped a bounce pass between their legs to James Wiseman, who had stopped his roll short to present Poole an option.
Wiseman picked up Poole’s pocket pass, took one dribble and lofted a seven-foot floater, showing an impressive in-between game.
Poole and Wiseman are probably the Warriors’ two most important bench players. When depth is going to be crucial for their championship repeat chances, they’ll need to develop a strong chemistry, particularly as the second unit shifts to more of a spread pick and roll formula.
Poole said earlier this week that he’s still learning how to play in the pick-and-roll with Wiseman. There’s a timing that needs to develop, and that can only come with reps.
“It’ll only take a matter of time before we really start to dominate the two-man game,” Poole said.
Wiseman finished 4-for-5 for 11 points and five boards. Poole only recorded three points on four shots but tallied six dimes. It takes time.
Classic Warriors 3rd quarter
For as long as the Warriors have been a dynasty, they’ve built a reputation for dominating third quarters. All these years, nobody’s solved it.
Friday, Golden State turned a 20-deficit into at one point seven.
Finally, the outside shots started to fall — even from Draymond Green. Klay Thompson got a shooter’s roll on a triple.
Golden State let Aaron Gordon shoot from the outside, which led to stops. Green played with pace. The ball kept moving.
GSW won the third quarter 36 to 28. But Bones Hyland and the Nuggets bench staved them off a bit, and Denver’s early lead held.
Golden State cut the lead to seven a couple times, then six, and eventually five. Curry got hot. Wiggins hustled on the glass. The Warriors executed in the last two minutes with their Death Lineup.
With 13 seconds left, a Hyland turnover let the Warriors make it a one-possession game.
But Denver did just enough to escape.
The Dubs will close out their three-game homestand against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at 5:30 p.m. (NBCSBA) as the team celebrates Filipino Heritage Night. It will be former Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown’s first time at Chase Center since becoming the Sacramento Kings head coach over the summer.
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