That whole "it's just the preseason" statement flew out of the window after Andrew Bogut completed a full-court pass to Andre Iguodala for a dunk.
Any other time it would be appropriate to end this game recap sermon early and dismiss church. Plays like that coming from your center shouldn't be tainted with mentions of other game moments, however there were just as impressive factors in Friday night's win, most notably the Warriors transition D.
Without the convenience of symmetry, the Golden State Warriors ended their 2014 preseason at Oracle Arena. This time the Denver Nuggets were the victim as the Warriors cruised to an 119-112 win. They'll walk away from this preseason with a record of six wins and two L's.
Living by the three & transition D
Live by the three, die by the three is the popular adage in today's NBA, however the Warriors seem to be living pretty large at the moment. Long shots produce long rebounds, and majority of the time lead to fast break opportunities for the opposition, however the Warriors seem to be controlling the transition game well above average.
Their shooting hasn't been the greatest thus far, however it's masked by the tendency to launch a barrage of three balls each game. With an average of 25 threes shot in seven preseason contests, the W's have limited teams to only 14.5 fast break points per game. That's pretty impressive as it's indicative of a healthy team that's feeling good physically and more than able to get back on defense.
(Don't believe me? Just ask the Los Angeles Lakers who gave up 19 points per game in transition and walked out of the preseason on the losing side of a 3-5 record. They currently have six players reportedly injured with a few others banged up. Better yet don't ask the Lakers, they've had a rough week already.)
Teams that carry ailments into the regular season give up major points in transition. The Warriors are showing signs of improving on their fourth-best defensive rating last season (102.6). With how fluid the offense has looked in addition to how great the ball has been moving, to say the W's have both sides of the court covered heading into the regular season is enough to make you smile (if you're not one for jumping through the roof).
The Denver Nuggets got out on the break tonight with 18 fast break points, however the Warriors let up on the gas a bit as the Nuggets reduced the margin and got within four points late in the fourth quarter. It was not necessarily a lack of defense, moreso what looked like boredom. Albeit it's a coach's nightmare to have his team ease up on the competition at any moment of the game, a dominant night leading to short lapses in efficiency can be forgiven at any time. It's not that big of a deal.
Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes
In addition to the Warriors scoring 17 points off turnovers a few extra lessons were learned (if they weren't apparent already). This team needs Andre Iguodala on the floor. Although he might not fill it up and be the 20-plus scoring wing he was in Denver, his ability to handle the ball, pass, rebound and play defense are invaluable. Should he begin the regular season with the second unit, he's got my vote for the Sixth Man of the Year award early.
Harrison Barnes doesn't look completely at home with the starting unit, but he doesn't really look completely comfortable coming off the bench either. There are tons of moving parts with this new Warriors club, and although his play might convince you he's a bit more NBA aged, the fact is that Barnes is only entering his third year in the league. It takes more time for younger players to settle into new systems, by game 15 of the regular season, he'll be well-adjusted.
In 164 total games played in regular season and playoffs historically, the Nuggets currently lead the Warriors in the win column by 20 games. In the last five seasons combined, the Warriors have won only six out of 18 contests. If their dominating play tonight is any indication, they'll narrow that margin a bit this season as they're set to meet the Nuggets three times this upcoming season.