While making sure to pay proper reverence and respect to Stephen Curry, who scored 32 points in his fifth-consecutive stellar game since returning from that sprained ankle, the difference in the Warriors’ win over the Denver Nuggets was Draymond Green. Green made up for his abysmal performance against these same Nuggets on December 23rd with an impressive showing on Monday night. Green’s scoring, in particular, was on display as the forward had a season-high points total, allowing the Warriors to avenge that late December loss to the Nuggets at Oracle Arena.
Green scores a season-high 23 points
With Kevin Durant missing the game and Klay Thompson drawing an exhausting matchup by having to deal with the Nuggets’ Gary Harris, the Warriors were going to need someone to play well offensively so the game wasn’t just Curry vs. everyone. Green provided this against the visiting Nuggets by scoring 23 points, his highest points total since March of 2017.
One of the bigger stories for the Warriors in the first half of the 2017-18 season has been the outside shooting difficulties of Green and Andre Iguodala. Thus it was good to see Green not only shooting from three-point range but making those shots as well, like he did here in the second quarter.
Draymond takes a really early 3 with zero chance for an offensive rebound. He drills it so Steve Kerr and Mike Brown had to smile pic.twitter.com/rD6XAnTxli— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 9, 2018
Also helping Green’s point total was the fact that he was getting to the free-throw line. Green went to the charity stripe six times against the Nuggets and made five of his free throws. Much like he did last week against the Houston Rockets, Green attacked the basket to draw the contact and then, when he got to the free-throw line, made his shots.
If Green’s outside shooting continues to go up-and-down, Warriors fans will want to see him drawing fouls and making three-point plays the hard way.
Green also plays distributor, hands out 10 assists
In addition to scoring, Green played an important role as the facilitator and instigator of the Warriors offense. Green got the ball to his teammates for 10 assists against the Nuggets, including one here as he found Iguodala for a rare made three-pointer.
Green’s assist total on Monday night was helped by Curry once again being dialed in on offense. Three of Green’s assists in this game came from a Curry basket, including this one in the first quarter.
This would continue into the third quarter, when Curry and Green played a little two-man game that resulted in another Curry three-pointer off of a Green assist.
Green contributes just enough defense for the Warriors to win
In a game where the Warriors defense was not strong throughout, Green did as well as he could against a sizable Nuggets front court. Green played particularly ferociously in the first quarter on the defensive end.
It needs to be said: Draymond Green's defense in the 1st quarter was incredible— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 9, 2018
Though the Warriors did not play particularly inspired team defense against the Nuggets, and Green was inconsistent at times, he still brought out that defensive intensity when it was needed.
Green also had three blocks against the Nuggets, including one that came on a particularly good defensive possession for him.
Fantastic defensive possession by Green. Closes out on Lyles, stones him in the post, passes out, stones him again, blocks Murray.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) January 9, 2018
Having to contend with one of the game’s better big men in Nikola Jokic and without his fellow rim-protector in Durant, it was going to be a tough night on the defensive end for Green. That certainly showed up in the stat sheet as Jokic tailed a triple-double on Monday night.
But Green did play good (or good enough) defense at the right times to slow down the Nuggets offense just enough to make sure the Warriors earned the victory.
There was one blemish on an otherwise good night for Green
The game was one in which the Warriors would push the lead to double-digits only to see the Nuggets go on a run and close the gap. After yet another impressive third quarter, the Warriors looked poised to pull away in the fourth. With four-and-a-half minutes left in the game, Green looked to put the exclamation point on this game. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way.
Kerr lets us know what he think of this bad decision pic.twitter.com/RV3kkI2thF— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) January 9, 2018
Instead of taking the dunk to give Warriors a 14 point lead, Green elected to swing the ball out to an open Curry for a three-pointer. Unfortunately, Curry missed the wide-open shot and Harris knocked down a three-pointer of his own to cut the Warriors lead to just nine. The Nuggets took advantage of this stay of execution, getting the Warriors lead down to just six points before four consecutive points from Green put the game effectively out of reach.
It was an unfortunately sloppy and poorly thought out footnote to a good night from Green, one that saw him be the Warriors second-leading scorer and provide the offensive punch alongside Curry to get the Warriors the win.
Who was your Warrior Wonder for the win over the Nuggets?
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