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Warriors heading into tough back-to-back with Green, Poole leading the way
The Knicks are hot, the Nets are good; but Golden State has to figure it out against whoever they face
The Golden State Warriors managed to pick up a rare road win in their last game. A feat made more impressive by the fact that they managed to do so without star, Stephen Curry. But the intensity is about to ramp all the way up with a pair of back-to-back games featuring two of the hottest teams in the league. Don’t laugh! The New York Knicks are on a whopping seven game win streak (“semi-whopping?”) and Kevin Durant and the Nets have six consecutive victories to their names.
The Warriors? Well, they just picked up road win number three, thank you very much! Jokes aside though, this is how it looks when a team starts to put it together. Like when I was younger and more reckless, and trying to learn a new skateboard trick - the line between a brutal wipeout, and landing a smooth trick isn’t always as clean as you’d like. You’ll land one and then splatter once or three times before reliably being able to nail it on demand. Golden State is starting to put it together!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (15-16) at New York Knicks (17-13)
WHEN: Tuesday, December 20th, 2022 // 4:30pm PDT
WATCH: TNT; NBCSBA
Blog Buddy: The Strick.land
Taking the lid off the Poole
Har har. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the dad joke of a section header. Jordan Poole just blasted up to a new career high of 43 points - picking up the slack in Curry’s absence. It was a nice showing made all the nicer by his impeccable timing. With help from Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Donte DiVincenzo, the Warriors finally started to establish the connective tissue that has been needed around Curry (whenever he returns).
It was partially Jalen Brunson’s four year, $104 million contract with the Knicks that helped set the perceived market value for Poole’s deal, and it’s going to be interesting to watch the two collide head to head tonight. Brunson was a key for the Mavs in their run to the 2022 Western Conference finals before Andrew Wiggins and the Warriors dunked them out of the playoffs, and he’s found a home in New York.
Over the course of the Knicks' 7-game win streak, they are first in Defensive Rating and second in Net Rating, holding opponents to the lowest field goal percentage and three-point percentages; while also inhaling a higher share of rebounds than anyone else in the NBA.
Not many people saw this coming.
But the Knicks had a plan. The addition of Brunsen was just the final puzzle piece in a puzzle that they started putting together years ago around Julius Randle. Most of us long ago put the table top down on top of it and forgot about New York, but the hilariously nicknamed “Mid Three” of Brunsen, Randle and RJ Barrett are making legitimate waves right now.
In Golden State, there’s a plan too. Poole is an under discussed aspect of the two timelines stuff.
In a lot of ways, Poole is the key to this season more than Kuminga or Wiseman. The Warriors have an emergent ecosystem approach, where they toss out their best guesses for good fits, and hope the player develops into something. It’s often said that Steph is the system, but the concept of emergence suggests that there are properties that we associate with a system that are actually just the relationships in that system.
How much can Poole be for this team?
That’s the million dollar question. The four year, $140 million question.
It’s no secret that Poole has been better playing with Curry and the starters. Like anything else in life, if you can pair up with the very best, it makes everything easier. For most of this season, Poole has taken a back seat and has been struggling to find consistent dominance off the bench. His role as a Curry doppelganger is a force multiplier, and while lots of various parts of this machine need to come together for the roster to make sense, Poole’s is perhaps the most important emerging threat.
Those career best 43 points came off just 23 field goal attempts. And for me, I think one of the first real “damn, this guy might be really good” memories of Curry was his efficiency. He just kept hitting everything, even as more was asked.
I don’t know that Poole and the Warriors are going to pull two wins out of these two days in New York, but if Poole and Green keep playing like they did in their last game, it at least feels possible - even without Curry and Wiggins.