Who: Golden State Warriors vs Denver Nuggets
When: Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 @ 7PM PT
How to Watch: NBC Sports Bay Area
How to Listen: 95.7 The Game
Warriors: Klay Thompson (out, Achilles), James Wiseman (out, knee), Gary Payton II (out, hernia).
Nuggets: Jamal Murray (knee, foot), Will Barton (ankle, doubtful).
The Nuggets have had some bad times out against the Warriors since the days when Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson put a fork into the playoff dreams of the 2008 Warriors (aka “The Best Team Ever to Miss The Playoffs”.)
The next time the Dubs did make the playoffs they paid Denver back in blood. Stephen Curry fulfilled Mark Jackson’s basketball prayers by ascending into rarified air and hurling three-point lightning bolts at Ty Lawson’s Nuggs. This act of furious indignation tempted Andre Iguodala away to the Bay where he became Finals MVP and praised Curry’s game.
Iguodala: "Stephen Curry is the second coming of Jesus Christ." @StephenCurry30— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) July 11, 2013
When the Warriors dynasty rose from the soil of East Oakland to take over the globe, the Nuggets were often reminded of their place in the order of things by the defending champions. This includes the garish power the Warriors flexed in 2019 on a reborn Denver team threatening to take the #1 seed.
10 s in a quarter. Most in Dubs history pic.twitter.com/oWkB94xGdZ— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 16, 2019
When Klay Thompson’s lower legs gave out from breaking his feet off in the league’s collective hindquarters, the Nuggets appeared poised to make a title run in a Warriors-less playoff landscape. But those dreams came to a screeching halt last season when All-Star point guard Jamal Murray woefully tore his ACL against the Warriors last season. Denver learned the hard way that just like Golden State and even the Brooklyn Nets found out, it’s hella hard to win with injuries in your backcourt.
How good are Jokic’s healthy teammates?
In the meantime, the Nuggets are trying to ride their superstar center Nikola Jokic to the promised land. The crafty giant took his game to another level last season, narrowly edging out Curry for the MVP award. “The Joker” also took some brooms on his way out of the playoffs after being swept by the eventual Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns. He’ll need growth and synergy from his two young and athletic teammates: Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon.
Here’s Brad Botkin for CBS Sports keeping tabs on the 23-year old Porter in a piece entitled: “Nikola Jokic has even more on his plate, and it’s Michael Porter Jr.’s time to shine”
With Murray out, Porter, who signed a five-year extension this summer that could be worth up to $207 million, is primed to take the next step in what looks to be a future-All-Star ascension. Porter is a world-class shooter who at 6-foot-10 is largely unaffected by even strong contests. He averaged 19 points per game last season but 22-23 should be in his range this season. He shot 45 percent from 3 last season, and his 133.2 points per 100 shots attempts ranked in the 96th percentile among all forwards, per Cleaning the Glass.
If Denver’s first preseason game is any indication, Porter is already in midseason form. On Monday night, he went for 23 points and seven assists on 9-for-15 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3, against the Clippers. We’ve seen Porter dominate playoff games even as high-level defensive attention tilts his way.
I’m old enough to remember when desperate Warriors fans were pining for Porter Jr.’s teammate Aaron Gordon like there was no tomorrow. Meanwhile there’s plenty of question marks about the 26-year old power forward’s impact in Denver, per John Hollinger:
The Gordon decision is the one that hangs over this whole season, as his contract and the assets they gave up to acquire him represent a big investment. Gordon suited up for the final 25 games last season and the fit was … OK. Gordon shot only 26.6 percent from 3 as a Nugget, which is a small sample thing that should improve, but all his numbers except field-goal percentage were way down from what he did in Orlando.
Can he be dynamic enough as a cutter, poster and in transition to offset his iffy long-range shooting? Can he profit from Jokic’s genius passing and pummel mismatches against small wings? Can he be a lockdown defender who offsets Porter’s shortcomings at that end? Denver’s road to title contention depends on positive answers to those questions.
If those two guys click, the Nuggets will have a lot of firepower from hoopers in their early to mid-20s. And yet the Warriors are right there with them in terms of bolstering a young-and-talented roster movement.
This Poole goes deep
Jordan Poole is 22-years old and he’s already putting the league on notice after his first preseason game. He delivered a scorching 30 points in 22 minutes with a red-hot 7-of-13 shooting performance from beyond the arc.
JORDAN POOLE RANGE pic.twitter.com/yIMFCh4Wa8— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 5, 2021
TALK ABOUT PLAYER DEVELOPMENT.
Speaking of younger guys on the Warriors, Andrew Wiggins has lived what seems to be nine different basketball lives since he was drafted #1 overall in 2014, but he’s only 26. We know that the Warriors still have Steph, Klay, Draymond Green and that former Nugget Iguodala. But it’s the youthful pieces the Dubs are putting around them that are bringing a new layer to the team; keeping the franchise on fresh legs while relying on the championship grit of their OG’s.
It’s only preseason, but if I know this Warriors squad, they’ll definitely relish using this talented Denver squad as a sparring partner.