The Golden State Warriors may only be the three-seed in the Western Conference, but after dominating the Denver Nuggets in a 126-106 victory on Monday, it looks more and more like they may be a leading championship favorite. Now leading the series 2-0, the Warriors have an opportunity to end the series in Denver.
The Nuggets and presumptive MVP Nikola Jokić got off to a strong start. After taking a 7-0 lead, Denver led for most of the first half. However, as was the case in Game 1, the Warriors took over as soon as Steve Kerr put Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole on the floor together at the end of the first half.
Denver used their superior size to get offensive rebounds and foul shots in the first half, which helped them control the pace early. However, the Warriors scoring trio led a 26-6 run over the final minutes of the second quarter, including one stretch where the Dubs scored 16 unanswered points. Even though Golden State led just 57-51 at the half, it felt like the Nuggets were running out of time.
As in Game 1, the Warriors exploded in the third quarter. Thompson, Curry, and Poole each looked unguardable while their teammates took advantage of what they created. Defensively, Draymond Green continued looking rejuvenated and in Defensive Player of the Year form, as he frustrated Jokić all game long. While the Nuggets center recorded 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists in 28 minutes, he committed five fouls and could not get any of his teammates going.
Golden State scored 44 points in the third, leading 101-81 heading into the final quarter of regulation. The Warriors had once again unofficially clinched victory in the first 36 minutes of regulation. Still, they were not done putting up highlights. Curry splashed in some more threes, Draymond frustrated Jokić into getting his second technical foul for arguing with officials, and rookies Jonathan Kuminga & Moses Moody got some garbage-time minutes.
Curry needed just 23 minutes to record a game-high 34 points and +32 plus/minus off the bench. Poole added an easy 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists on 10-for-16 shooting from the field. Thompson added 21 points of his own. Green’s boxscore undersold his overall impact (per usual), but Andrew Wiggins quietly had another solid 13 points and 8 rebounds.
The Warriors have seen glimpses of peak performance from Curry, Thompson, Poole, and Green, but it’s never come all at once this season. Injuries and new rotations made the second half of the season feel like a series of starts and stops for the Dubs, but not anymore.
Golden State’s four best players have looked like the best versions of themselves for two consecutive games. While Denver’s lack of depth makes it impossible to keep up, I’m not sure there’s any team in the league that can. And that’s precisely where the Warriors want to be.
The teams have two days off as they travel to Denver, where the Nuggets will host Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is on Thursday, April 21st at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. We’ll see if the Warriors can get within a game of a sweep in their next matchup.
Our Warriors postgame show is live over on Twitch. Join our Marc Delucchi to talk more about Golden State’s big win: