Warriors beat Nuggets 127-108 + Thoughts on Other Top Teams Around the NBA
The Warriors rolled into Denver after winning their first two games on their road trip, and after a day off, they were looking to finish their trip with a win. They came out of the gates shooting, and put the Nuggets away with a final score of 127-108. The Warriors were looking to build on their strong finish to their last game against San Antonio, and put the Denver Nuggets in their place.
The first quarter saw the Warriors come out blisteringly hot. Klay Thompson was especially hot, scoring 10 points on 4-5 shooting. They forced the Nuggets to turn the ball over 6 times, and the Warriors only turned the ball over 4 times, and only allowed the Nuggets to score 4 points off of those turnovers. The Warriors were playing great team basketball throughout the first quarter, and they were led by Stephen Curry, who had 7 assists after the first quarter, and the team combined for 12 assists in the quarter. JaVale McGee had 8 points in the quarter, mostly due to some great passes by Steph. The Warriors led after the first, 36-23.
The Nuggets started off the second quarter with a 15-0 run before the Warriors scored their first points of the quarter on a KD three. The Nuggets outscored the Warriors 32-24 in the second quarter, but after starting the quarter going 1-13, the Warriors managed to pick up their scoring thanks to Steph getting re-inserted into the game. He finished the half with 10 points, but the leading scorer for the Warriors was Klay Thompson, who was ice cold to start the quarter, but scored five points in the last two minutes, and finished the half with 15 points. The Warriors shot 50% from the field in the first half despite their slump in the beginning of the second quarter, but have been giving up too many baskets inside, especially to Kenneth Faried, who finished the half with 7 points, but each of his baskets came on thunderous dunks that ignited the Denver crowd. The Warriors led going into halftime, 60-55.
The third quarter was essentially just a display of the Warriors dominance. They just demolished the Nuggets in the third, and kept their starters in for the majority of it. They outscored the Nuggets 43-21 in the quarter, and they were playing incredible team basketball. Steph got blisteringly hot, and had two four-point plays. He ended the quarter with 22 points and 11 assists. Zaza Pachulia also got in on the action in the third, finishing with 8 points, and even running the floor on the most graceful fast break in NBA history. Through the third quarter, the team shot 55% from the field, and 46.9% from three. The Warriors led after the third quarter, 103-76.
The fourth quarter was just the Warriors running out the clock with their bench guys, and they looked a little sloppy, but were still able to hold onto their lead and win the game. The Warriors won the game, 127-108.
The Warriors starters had an incredible game, they had a combined plus/minus of 147, including +44 from Stephen Curry. I think the Warriors have finally turned the corner, and put their China trip fatigue behind them. They were incredibly efficient tonight, and if they can keep playing like this, there is not a single team that can keep up with them.
There isn’t much to take away from this game, I expect the Warriors to win handedly like this every time they play. Instead of takeaways from tonight's game, I think I’ll take a look around the league and give some thoughts about the Warriors’ competition.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are 4-4 at this point, and I think that while they will improve, they will not stand a chance against the Warriors as long as Russell Westbrook is running the floor. In their last game, against the Boston Celtics, they surrendered a late lead thanks to a reappearance of their habits from last year. Last season, the team made it their goal to boost Russell Westbrook's stats to help him average a triple double, and this is not some bold claim, it is a widely agreed upon fact. Last night, the Celtics took over a game when Kyrie Irving drilled a three-pointer while being fouled, and he missed his free throw, grabbed his own rebound, and scored, and the Celtics never looked back. The only player on the Thunder to go for the rebound was Russell Westbrook, while everyone else just boxed out the Celtics’ bigs. I honestly think that Westbrook is not as good as his stats say, and he does not make his teammates better. That can be demonstrated in several ways, from seeing how Paul George and Carmelo Anthony don’t shoot the ball better when Westbrook is distributing. Carmelo is shooting below his career average from three this year, while Paul George has remained basically the same. We can also look at how Victor Oladipo’s breakout this year. Last year, with OKC, Oladipo averaged 15 ppg on 44% percent shooting, and most people said that the only reason OKC was struggling was because Westbrook did not have enough help. This, was clearly not true, because Oladipo, now playing in Indiana, is shooting 50% from the field, and 49% from three, both way better than when he was playing with OKC. I think that the 4-4 start is very telling for OKC, and if they continue to play .500 basketball, then the chemistry of the team will fall apart, because that is what happens when you combine three massive egos and things go wrong. I think that Paul George will leave OKC after this year too, as he has become the third fiddle in the offense behind two players that are worse than he is.
While the Thunder are considered the Warriors’ biggest competition in the west by many, others think that the Houston Rockets are better. I do not really worry about Houston, because they are run by Mike D'Antoni, and come playoff time, thanks to his style of play and the way he uses his players, they will run out of gas just like they did last year against San Antonio. Chris Paul is also hurt, and when he comes back, he will just dribble the air out of the ball like he always has done, and that will slow the Houston offense, and their defense cannot make up for slow offense with lower scoring.
The Cavaliers have got off to a rough start this year, and I think that it is extremely telling. They have lost games to the Knicks, the Magic, and the Nets, and I already see the team falling apart. Dwyane Wade has compared this season to LeBron’s last in Miami, when they lost to the Spurs in the finals, and it just feels like the Cavaliers’ run is over. I think that the only legit stud that the Cavs can count on is LeBron, the rest of his team is just not built for his playstyle. They are shooting poorly from three, which is what his teams in the last three years were predicated on. LeBron would drive to the hoop, and kick it out to the open guy on the perimeter to hit a spot up three. This year, his supporting cast is built up of guys who score by driving to the hoop and laying the ball in. I think that the Cavs will still make the playoffs and the ECF, but I have a hard time imagining them getting past the Celtics or the Wizards in the playoffs, especially if either one of those two acquire someone at the deadline like Boogie Cousins.
The Warriors play next at home against the Miami Heat, on Monday, November 6, at 7:30 p.m.