Well, here it is. One of the most anticipated games of the season for the Golden State Warriors: a primetime contest at home against the Brooklyn Nets.
Who: Golden State Warriors (14-12) vs. Brooklyn Nets (15-12)
When: 5:30 p.m. PT
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
TV: ABC (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Draymond Green
Nets: Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green
Warriors: Beat the Magic 111-105 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Nets: Beat the Pacers 104-94 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):
Warriors: 110.4 offense (20th), 110.4 defense (8th), -0.0 net (14th)
Nets: 118.3 offense (4th), 114.3 defense (24th), +4.0 net (6th)
It feels like it’s been years since the Nets absolutely destroyed the Warriors in the first game of the NBA season.
The Warriors look nothing like they did on that fateful December night. They’ve figured out how to play not horrible basketball. Kelly Oubre Jr. is no longer playing in his first game with the team. And most importantly, Draymond Green is healthy.
But the Nets have changed since then as well. It was Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s first game together, and their first game under coach Steve Nash. Spencer Dinwiddie is now injured and Caris LeVert is gone.
And oh yeah ... James Harden is on the team now.
Both teams look dramatically different, and both are likely eager to see the other.
And most importantly: Kevin Durant is back.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Oubre has looked like an entirely different player over the last handful of games, and I don’t think it’s just because the shots are falling. Oubre looks far more comfortable in the system, and seems to be making the right reads and decisions.
Kelly Oubre's last ten games:— Marc Delucchi (@maddelucchi) February 12, 2021
17.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG
The Warriors can beat bad teams when Oubre isn’t playing well, but they can’t beat good teams. In order to hold their own against Brooklyn, they need the new and improved Oubre to show up once more.
Net to watch: James Harden.
Harden hasn’t been quite the same player since heading to Brooklyn to form a star triumvirate. That’s largely been due to his willingness to not always be the main attraction. Two years after posting an absurd 40.5% usage rate, the former MVP has had a usage rate of just 24.7% with the Nets — a mark that would be his lowest since he was coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And that’s been with the Nets only having a handful of games where all three of their stars play.
But he’s been incredibly efficient, and looks willing to buy into a more team-oriented concept. He’s still as deadly as ever, if not more so.
Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Kevin Durant
Green may not be matched up with Durant from the opening whistle, but you can be sure that he’ll end up guarding his former teammate on many occasions. And that will pit arguably the most unstoppable offensive player in the league against arguably the best defender in the league, for the first time since the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
Forget the former teammates thing. Forget the tension and drama narrative. From a pure basketball standpoint, this is as pure and wonderful as it gets.
Keys to victory
- Stay competitive through the first quarter.
- Try and force the ball away from James Harden and Kevin Durant and into Kyrie Irving’s hands.
- Play committed and disciplined defense with limited fouling and competitive rebounding.
- Steph Curry do the damn thing.
This should be fun, folks.