The Golden State Warriors put together one of their best performances of the year on Monday night, beating the Denver Nuggets 116-107. It was a game that had everything for Golden State: movement on offense, engagement on defense, a vintage game from Draymond Green, and a dynamic and historic performance from Steph Curry.
All that matters is that they won, and looked good doing so. But while we’re here, let’s see if they hit on their pregame keys to victory from my preview.
Limit the easy buckets
The key: Don’t get backcut to death by Denver’s wings as Nikola Jokić racks up assists after assist.
The outcome: Against an elite Nuggets offense, the Warriors showed up and played some pretty strong defense. Jokić tallied 8 assists — a good number, but also below his season average — but the Warriors limited the easiness with which he found those dimes.
Jokić is one of the best passers in the league — in the history of the league, for that matter — and seemingly needs just a sliver of daylight to find a cutting wing. For the most part, the Warriors kept those slivers of daylight at bay, and forced Jokić’s passes to be away from the hoop, rather than towards it.
Grading the key: 7.5 out of 10.
Survive the Stephless minutes
The key: Tread water during the minutes when Steph Curry is on the bench.
The outcome: This key ended up being rather irrelevant, because the Warriors were so good in Curry’s minutes that they didn’t even need to tread water when he rested. Which is good because they didn’t do a great job in that department.
Golden State outscored Denver by 16 points in Curry’s 36 minutes, and were outscored by 7 in the 12 minutes he sat. That could have been much worse — we’ve seen it be much worse on many occasions this season — but still not really worth celebrating.
Grading the key: 4.5 out of 10.
The key: Draymond Green be engaged on both ends of the court.
The outcome: This might have been the best performance of the year for Green. He was as engaged as he’s been offensively all year, constantly pushing the ball forward, both in transition and in the halfcourt. The 18 points he tallied were his most since Christmas of 2019, and he dished out 7 dimes as well.
Defensively he was locked in, and all over the place. He played a huge role in Denver’s shiny new toy, Aaron Gordon, being a non-factor, and he was clearly the most valuable piece of a highly impressive defensive effort by the Dubs.
The Warriors are simply a different team when Green plays like that.
Grading the key: 10 out of 10.
What a great win.