Jokic's triple-double leads Nuggets over Warriors; Golden State's defense gets carved up
123 points isn't enough to win a game at home? Sheesh!
The Golden State Warriors suffered their first loss of the season in an entertaining but frustrating 128-123 loss to the feisty Denver Nuggets.
I should have known we had tough one ahead of us when astute DNHQ members GlueAndBold and TwoRingTest said we weren’t ready to beat the Nuggets right now.
The Nuggets did indeed snatch a victory in Chase Center, as back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic to 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Golden State’s back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry scored 34 points of his own, but it wasn’t enough to carry the Dubs to a win.
In my humble opinion, if you score 123 points your offense did what it was supposed to do in terms of giving you a solid chance to win that night. But the defense got shredded like cheese, particularly in a first half that featured Denver coasting to a 70-52 advantage and putting the Warriors into a hole that they could not escape from despite a furious effort down the stretch.
Death by wide open shots
It was just opening night when the Warriors were being widely applauded for leaving the Los Angeles Lakers wide open and exposing their lack of shooting:
Unfortunately that “leave everybody open and pack the paint” strategy didn’t hold up so well against the Denver Nuggets, a team that views open shots like the Cookie Monster eyeballs a freshly opened tray of Oreos: YUMYUMYUMYUM.
The Nuggets shot 4-of-10 on triples where the closest defender was within four to six feet, which is considered an open shot in the NBA. But they shot 9-of-18 on wide open threes, which is classified when a defender is more than six feet away. And if you take away Aaron Gordon’s errant 0-of-4 marksmanship on wide open bombs, the Nuggets are 9-of-14, a red hot 64%.
This is a recipe for not just giving up easy rhythm shots and getting the other team into a groove; this is also a great way to end up on the business end of those deadly NBA runs that sweep through the arena like a tsunami.
And although the Warriors did a superior job covering the shooters in the second half, they still gave up some backbreaking shots that doomed them.
Here’s two different angles on Moses Moody giving some unsolicited assistance that leaves Kentavious Cadwell-Pope hella open in the corner. Jokic identifies this miscue like he’s in the middle of a training camp passing drill and KCP makes the Warriors pay in a game they were desperately trying to steal:
The Nuggets ended up shooting 15-of-44 (44%) from deep for the game, an efficiency that pretty much doomed Golden State.
Self-inflicted errors for the Dubs
One of the biggest cliches in basketball is that the NBA isa make-or-miss league, but last night’s contest was a great example of that. The Nuggets took some chances leaving Golden State’s shooters open and the Dubs couldn’t make them pay with consistency.
The Warriors shot 7-of-23 on wide open triples, a damning number when trying to survive in a Western Conference shootout. Andrew Wiggins was 1-of-6 in that situation while Jordan Poole and Moses Moody combined to go 0-for-5. These are three guys the Warriors give the ultimate green light when it comes to uncontested sniping; their errant shots helped cushion Denver’s lead.
Poole in particular saw a lot of defensive attention last night, playing primarily as the leader of the team’s bench unit. He scored 7 points, 7 assists, and swiped 3 steals in 27 minutes. He was 2-of-5 from the field and had 4 turnovers with a team worst -20 plus/minus.
Coach Steve Kerr mentioned in the postgame that Poole is figuring out what his new role is with new rotations and a heightened awareness from defenders. Poole is the de facto distributor with the bench mob right now, but there will be times when GSW needs him to go supernova like he did last year in the postseason against Denver.
I’m sure many will look to the stat sheet and notice all Golden State starters had a positive plus/minus, contrasted with the entire bench (sans Moody) all lin the negatives. Draymond Green in particular looked spry in his 27 minutes, rumbling to 13 points, 9 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in his battle against Jokic.
As Coach Kerr limits his starter’s minutes to keep them fresh across the season, there will be plenty of opportunities for the youth movement to learn the painful/valuable lessons it takes to win against elite competition. Here’s Green explaining one of those teaching moments with James Wiseman on defense:
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn!
Playing with line ups... TLDR: rest Curry/Klay/Green half the game, pair Wiseman+Green, pair Kuminga+Looney, always have three 3pt shooters, always have 2 of the top 6 guys in, play Moody and Kuminga more.
30 mins: poole, wiggs
24 mins: curry(currently 35min), klay, green, loon
18 mins: wise, moody(currently 10min), kuminga (currently 10min), dd
12 mins: jmg
Would it be safe to say that the Kings will give good teams a run for their money this season?