14-0!!!! (6-0 ROAD)
6-7 (3-3 HOME)
November 22, 2015
|Pepsi Center — Denver, CO
|National: ESPN| Local: CSN Bay Area | KNBR 680 AM|
|Blog Buddy: Denver Stiffs|
|Stephen Curry||G||Emmanuel Mudiay|
|Klay Thompson||G||Gary Harris|
|Harrison Barnes||F||Danilo Gallinari|
|Draymond Green||F||Kenneth Faried|
|Andrew Bogut||C||Nikola Jokic|
|Kevon Looney (Hip) - Out|
The Warriors sit on the brink of history. Yes — 15 wins to start a season is not as important as winning a second title in a row, but you can tell the Warriors know the importance, the rarity, and the opportunity they have to put their name into history.
LeBron James said it best: the Warriors might be one of the hungriest teams in the league right now, and they are the defending champions! They continue to come out night after night and fight their way to victories.
Sure, these wins have not been the dominant ones that we are accustomed to seeing Golden State pull off, but remember a few things:
#1: Teams are prepared for this now. Last year the Warriors caught many teams off guard, but the word is out. You can't take this team lightly.
#2: Golden State gets the best of most every team that shows up. This happens when you beat a team by 50. Other teams hope that they won't only be a better matchup and put up a bigger fight, but also that they'll be the ones to hand the Warriors a loss.
#3: The Warriors have played a lot of intense minutes over the last 6 months. There is no doubt that the mental toughness needed to keep this up is wearing, but they keep finding ways to pull off the wins.
That last point is why the win against the Bulls was so impressive: the Bulls brought their A game to Oracle. The Warriors were not at their best, even as Steph Curry missed some gimme shots, and other balls weren't going in. They didn't pull away from the Bulls, but they countered every Chicago run with a big stop and a basket of their own. They never led by more than 15 points, but even so they felt in control most of the game.
Luke Walton and Steve Kerr have this team playing at a level of calm and confidence that is unparalleled. They get contributions now from up and down the roster, they hit teams with their first and second units, and it's scary to think that even with them not playing their peak basketball, they can still find themselves on the brink of history.
If they win in Denver. they'll become the second team in NBA history to win their first 15 games of the season. I know I, for one, will be watching every minute of this game to see them tie the record. If they win? Well, don't look now but the upcoming schedule contains some very winnable games and some important days off.
The Nuggets represent the team in the way of history. Not only are they a pesky team that plays the Warriors hard in each matchup, but Denver is a notoriously tough place to play. Thank goodness for the rest day on Saturday after the big matchup from Friday night (Bulls vs Warriors coverage). As with any team, they would love to be the opponent responsible for bringing the Warriors back down to earth, so expect them not to lay down in the face of adversity.
The Nuggets are led by the emergence of Danilo Gallinari, who is quietly putting together a comeback player of the year type season. He averages 18 PPG, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, but he is obviously the heart and soul of this roster if you watch the team. Their offense is driven by Emmanuel Mudiay, the first round draft pick with the NBA body and great scoring mindset. Mudiay comes in with a 6.3/4.4 assist-to-turnover ratio at this point in the season, which is still a sign that he is going through his rookie transition.
The rest of the Nuggets roster is filled with energy and role players, including Warrior-killer Kenneth Faried. if there is one place you can get the Warriors, it is on the offensive glass. Golden State must continue to put high importance on controling the Nuggets on the defensive boards and handling their generally poor shooting
The Nuggets rank middle-to-the-bottom of the pack in all categories in the NBA. Their worse short-coming: their defense. They rank 23rd in the league in Defensive Rating, and give up plenty of points to their opponents. Their goal is to outscore you, and since the Warriors have one of the best offenses in the league that could be a challenge. Coach Mike Malone (friend of the bay) has a huge challenge ahead of him to keep this young motivated roster in check, but is fortunate in having some veterans off the bench in Jameer Nelson, Randy Foye and Mike Miller. It will be about getting his team to gel together around Gallo and Faried, and if not you could see this team going into full rebuilding mode again around the deadline.
The last time these two met...
The Nuggets traveled to Oracle back on November 6th. The final score of 119-104 did not give justice to the fact that Denver actually made this game a challenge. The Warriors put up 74 points in the first half, then downshifted to watch the Nuggets make a game of it.
Denver outscored the Warriors 60-45 in the second half, even a few times bringing the game into single digits. I could guess the plan was to not play the starters in the fourth quarter, however Will Barton's 19 points and Jameer Nelson's 10 caused Walton to put his key guys back in to seal the deal. Call it a possible let down game after a crazy second quarter, but it was a sign that the Warriors cannot simply roll over teams and watch them give up.
Golden State was paced by Steph Curry's 34 points with eight 3-pointers made, so we can assume that the Nuggets don't have a defensive answer for the MVP. Let's see if he can repeat his performance again this time in Denver.
• Regardless of what the Nuggets can throw at them, you are still talking about one of the best teams in the league. I picture the Warriors coming into town and feasting on a team that they not only should beat, but will beat. Will it be a blowout? I am hoping so, and for that I am picturing a handily 120-102 victory. Let's hope the extra day off pays off, and that Golden State is celebrating on national TV when the horn sounds putting their name in the record books.
(Follow me on twitter @badiehard)