On paper, losing by 10 on the road to the Denver Nuggets is no big deal. Losses happen, it wasn’t a blowout, and Denver is a really good team.
In reality, the Golden State Warriors looked like a team with a lot to figure out in their 114-104 loss. Needless to say, they didn’t hit many of their pregame keys to victory along the way.
Let’s revisit them.
Find an offensive rhythm
The key: Don’t let any Curry-centric defensive schemes get Curry out of rhythm, or get the rest of the team out of rhythm.
The outcome: Let’s break this down into two parts: don’t let the Curry-centric defensive schemes get Curry out of rhythm, and don’t let the Curry-centric defensive schemes got the rest of the team out of rhythm.
One solid pass, one miserable fail.
Curry had a very nice scoring game, with 35 points on 14-for-23 shooting, including 5-for-11 from distance.
Everyone else? Not so much. The rest of the Warriors shot 24-for-58, and 6-for-18 from distance.
But it was the way it looked that was most concerning, especially against a Denver defense that has been atrocious all season long. There was a lack of rhythm and movement, even if the final assist tally (29) looks nice enough. The Nuggets provided an opportunity for the offense to excel, and instead the O looked like a flustered and confused mess with one good player.
Grading the key: 3.5 out of 10.
Keep Murray at bay
The key: Don’t let Jamal Murray explode for a huge scoring night.
The outcome: Hey, the Warriors actually did well with this one. Allowing a big game from Nikola Jokić is a given, and he had 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists, while shooting 50% from the field. But you can still hope to contain Denver’s second start, and Golden State did that.
Murray, who had a coming out part in the bubble in Orlando, finished with 17 points and 6 assists, but shot just 6-for-18 from the field and 1-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Grading the key: 7.5 out of 10.
Find offense from the gates
The key: Establish an offensive rhythm in the first quarter.
The outcome: For a moment, this one looked like it was headed good places. The Warriors came out firing for a few minutes, led by 12 quick points from Curry. And then things fell off.
After the game, Steve Kerr blamed a lack of defensive intensity and engagement for the first quarter struggles.
Kerr on the team coming out slow: "Our defense was not engaged from the beginning of the game. That was the most disappointing ... we didn't have the same level of physicality and fight in us, especially in the first quarter."— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) January 15, 2021
That led to issues on both ends of the court, as the Dubs trailed 37-24 after the first frame.
Grading the key: 3 out of 10.
The key: Win the bench battle.
The outcome: Some of the second unit players played quite well. But where the Warriors really struggled was at the end of the first and third quarters, when Curry was surrounded by bench players.
Curry finished with a team-worst plus-minus of -21, primarily because of those minutes. Kevon Looney and Kent Bazemore played 10 minutes each, with the Dubs getting outscored by 17 and 14 points, respectively, with them on the court. For the first time all season, Eric Paschall struggled in his bench role, shooting just 2-for-9.
It was a bit of a mess.
Grading the key: 2.5 out of 10.
Back at it on Monday.