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Warriors head back to Denver, but the vibes are better
Also, watch the return of James Wiseman as he plays for the Sea Dubs
Maybe it was the pregame visit from Jackie Moon, or the return of Klay Thompson. Or maybe there’s something that awakened along with the news of Draymond Green’s return. Whatever the root cause, it feels very much like the Golden State Warriors pass the vibe check for the first time in weeks. In the midst of a tough week on the schedule, Golden State is heading back into Denver for the second time this week.
We’ve got an unorthodox, concurrent double header tonight, with Wiseman’s season debut on CSNBA with the Santa Cruz Sea Dubs G League team, and the main crew taking on the Nuggets on TNT; both starting at 7pm!
On the injury front, still no return of the usual suspects, but with Green reportedly returning as early as Monday, and a major James Wiseman update tonight, there’s plenty of cause for joy.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (44-22) at Denver Nuggets (39-26)
WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 2022 // 7pm PDT
WATCH: TNT (for Warriors); CSNBA (for Wiseman and Sea Dubs)
Counting the days
As the NBA season winds to a close, it’s time for teams to begin tightening up their rotations and prepping for the post season battle. The Warriors (assuming Green’s return prediction is accurate) have just three games left before the return of their defensive anchor and offensive facilitator. The fact that he’s been so sorely missed explains a lot of the team’s struggles over the past two months — and also portends a return to dominance when he comes back.
The schedule right now isn’t doing any favors for anyone. Though Golden State is none too happy about this week’s double round trip to Denver and back within a handful of day, neither are the Nuggets all that enthused about the schedule. Here’s Nuggets coach Mike Malone on the schedule from the Nugget’s perspective:
We're in the middle of 4 in 5. The last part of that 4 in 5 is the most dreaded back to back in the NBA. At Sacramento then home to play Golden State.
“We went to New York City three times this year. What was supposed to be a two-game road trip became a six games in nine days road trip. All the games that were canceled and rescheduled affected everybody including us.”
It’s an important reminder. This season hasn’t been kind to any of the teams. Denver was heavily impacted earlier in the season and has been making up ground ever since.
Which makes the flip side of the Warriors’ season-long difficulty in fielding their entire team somewhat sweet. Because of those struggles, the Warriors now could pivot to having some fresh legs just when they’re needed most.
Wiseman is going to be raw, Draymond likely rusty, Andre Iguodala is old.
But just feel the vibes in that last Warriors game. There was an enlivening that has occurred, like a trapped army seeing their reinforcements cresting a hill — even though the help isn’t immediate, the sight of it provokes a visceral response. Green and Iguodala are known quantities; highly valued quantities that will provide immense help on both ends of the court.
But Wiseman? It’s precisely how unknown he is that makes his return so enticing.
Ever seen the movie Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des loups)? It’s a really fantastic movie that we watched a ton of while I was in college. We lived way out in the sticks, with nothing but whatever we could scrounge from the crappy little video store in town, and we came to love the bargain rack. You could take a shot on a cheap five dollar movie, and find gems.
In the movie, the main character is chasing a beast that’s been terrorizing the countryside, everyone thinks it is some mystical creature. Much like Wiseman, there’s huge expectations, and an almost mythical reputation. In the end, the creature ends up not being magical or anything, but even the mundane reality of it is enough to rip through people.
The same may well be true for Wiseman. As the #2 pick, he’ll never escape the attention, and may or may not live up to the hype - but as a force of chaos, he’s still going to be someone opponents will have to specifically plan around.
The youth movement is here to stay
Against the backdrop of the reinforcements, Golden State has slowly uncovered some of their long-term projects’ value. Driven mostly by need rather than design, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody have both showed enough rookie promise to get watchers excited.
Once Green and Wiseman return, the rotations will be thrown into upheaval, but for these next two games at least there’s still a big need for minutes from both Kuminga and Moody.
The rookies have played well individually, which is cool enough on it’s own to get Dub Nation excited. But the real hidden value to be found is within the team dynamics — where Kuminga, Moody, and Poole all fill places of need.
The recent slide has given these players traction. Because so many of the main bench players haven’t been able to deliver, it’s provided a void that has allowed the youngest members of the team to prove their worth.
This whole “merging of the timelines” thing that Golden State is attempting is an extremely narrow band of possibility, but it’s starting to feel more and more like we are watching an ace pilot thread the needle.
I’m going to try to watch both of these games at the same time tonight, may even go super crazy and try to set up a second screen. For all the drudgery of the last couple months of Warriors basketball, things are about to get extremely interesting around here.
Warriors (and their fresh new vibes) are going to take a win in Denver.