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Steph Curry returns, but it’s Jordan Poole’s party in Warriors Game 1 win over Nuggets

The Dubs defended home court in a 123-107 victory over the Nuggets.

Jordan Poole #3 of the Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

In their first playoff game since 2019, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets 123-107, taking a 1-0 series lead in their first-round matchup. The Warriors welcomed star guard Stephen Curry back to their rotation for the first time in a month, but coming off the bench in his first game back, Curry never had to be a star for the Dubs to coast to victory.

Jordan Poole, a favorite for this year’s Most Improved Player Award, carried his explosive second half of the season into the first NBA playoff game of his career. He scored a game-high 30 points on 9-for-13 from the field. He drained deep threes, finished shots at the rim, and worked his way to the free-throw line. Poole once again looked like a budding young star on the national stage.

Both teams went back-and-forth at the start of regulation, with Curry entering halfway through the first quarter. Fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson did the bulk of damage for the Warriors early, scoring nine first-quarter points. However, the Dubs shot themselves in the foot with multiple turnovers and trailed 27-26 at the end of the quarter.

From there, the Warriors tightened up offensively. They finished the game with just 12 turnovers amidst a whirling dervish of passing. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr waited until the final minutes of the second quarter to unleash his trio of Curry, Poole, and Thompson together. They closed the half on an 18-4 run and gave the Warriors a 58-47 halftime lead.

The Warriors maintained their double-digit lead through the third quarter, and when Curry returned to the floor in the final five minutes, the Dubs went on another run. Curry knocked down his second three of the game, and Golden State had a 20-point lead within minutes.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokić started strong, but wore down as the game went on. The Warriors relied on Kevon Looney and Draymond Green against the reigning MVP, rarely double-teaming the Serbian star. Jokić got his buckets, but the rest of the Nuggets' offense struggled to get going. On the other end of the floor, the Dubs constantly involved Jokić in the pick-and-roll, which seemed to tire him out. Jokić finished 12-for-25 from the field with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and only 5 assists.

With Jokić cooled off in the second half, the Nuggets never mounted a legitimate fourth-quarter run, and the Warriors coasted to victory. Kerr brought his starters to the bench with 3:34 left in regulation.

Green showed up and looked like the peak “Playoff Draymond” Warriors fans were hoping to see. He was fantastic defensively, scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and recorded 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 blocks while not committing a single turnover. Unsurprisingly he had the best plus/minus of anyone in the starting lineup (+21).

Curry finished with 16 points in his 21 minutes of action. Thompson recorded 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting (5-for-10 from three). Andrew Wiggins added 16 points and 9 rebounds. Off the bench, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Gary Payton II, and Andre Iguodala each added solid contributions, although none of them put up standout boxscore lines.

Both teams have one day off before the Warriors host Game 2 on Monday, April 18th at 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. The Nuggets will look to steal home-court advantage before heading back to Colorado, while the Dubs have an opportunity to solidify a commanding 2-0 series lead.

Join our live Warriors postgame show on Twitch hosted by Marc Delucchi: