The Golden State Warriors came so close to pulling the broom out of their closet on Sunday, and becoming the first team to advance to the semifinals in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. But it wasn’t meant to be, as a gutsy performance from Nikola Jokić and the pesky Denver Nuggets forced a Game 5 at Chase Center on Wednesday.
So let’s dig into the Warriors’ first playoff loss since the final game of the 2019 season. As always, grades are weighted based on our expectations for players.
Note: League-average true-shooting percentage (TS) this season was 56.6%.
34 minutes, 13 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 6 fouls, 5-for-6 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 88.8% TS, +18
Green fouled out with 2:05 left in the game, and the Warriors trailing by a single point. There’s no way of knowing what would happen in alternate realities, but had Green not fouled out, I feel pretty confident that the Warriors win.
That’s not an indictment of Green fouling out. It’s a sign as to just how ridiculously good and important he was in this game. Another sign of it? The Warriors outscoring Denver by 18 points in Green’s 34 minutes, and getting outscored by 23 points in the 14 minutes when he sat.
Fouling out happens, and Green spent much of the game defending arguably the greatest offensive player alive, who is five inches taller and more than 50 pounds heavier than Dray. You live with the fouls.
Dray continues to look absolutely excellent — like someone who can be the second-best player on a championship team.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds and plus/minus.
37 minutes, 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 9-for-16 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 59.2% TS, +5
Wiggins’ offense was a huge part of why the Warriors were able to stay within shouting distance of the Nuggets in the first half. He had 11 second-quarter points as the Dubs tried to stay afloat while the Nuggets repeatedly found the bottom of the net.
He did what the Warriors needed, as he cut, moved well off the ball, attacked the glass on offense and defense, and played quality D.
This was emphatically Good Wiggins.
12 minutes, 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, 0 plus/minus
Looney got a little bit more run in this game, and played pretty darn well. It’s still just not his matchup, as the Warriors really need to be playing small to try and wear out Jokić. But Looney did his job when he was asked to.
31 minutes, 32 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, 12-for-20 shooting, 7-for-11 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 76.6% TS, +9
Klay’s four playoff games: 24.5 points per game, 52.8% shooting, 50.0% on threes, 67.2% true-shooting.
He’s found his rhythm, at the perfect time.
39 minutes, 11 points, 2 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 3-for-10 shooting, 1-for-5 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 46.8% TS, -6
My biggest takeaway from Poole’s performance is this: he’s one of the most important players on the team, bar none. I had some questions entering the playoffs about how Steve Kerr would treat both Poole and Wiggins in terms of minutes. Sure, Wiggins was an All-Star, and yeah, Poole ended the season on an other-worldly tear, but were their spots in the rotation fully secure?
Poole had his worst game of the series. He struggled to find good looks, and couldn’t get his shot to fall.
And he still played more minutes than any other player for the Warriors.
Poole rewarded Kerr’s confidence, and had some clutch moments and some tremendous playmaking. But my lasting (and excited) impression is that his spot in the rotation is fully secure. His playoff minutes won’t wax and wane as his shot does. He’ll be out there every night, playing 32-40 minutes, and helping the Warriors fight for a championship.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
5 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 0-for-1 shooting, 0.0% TS, -9
Did Kerr change the bench rotations because the Warriors were struggling, or did the Warriors struggle because Kerr changed the rotations?
Probably a little of both, but whatever the reason, Bjeli didn’t get his usual run in this one.
11 minutes, 9 points, 3-for-4 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 3-for-5 free throws, 72.6% TS, -3
With the rotations changing, Kuminga got non-garbage time minutes for the first time this season. There were certainly some areas where he wasn’t great, but he was able to use his athleticism to his advantage and get some points in a hurry against Denver.
13 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, 0-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, -10
This was just the second time all season that Iguodala didn’t have an assist in a game. He couldn’t make an impact on offense or on defense. It could be the neck still bothering him, or it may have just been a bad game. We’ll find out on Wednesday, I guess.
Otto Porter Jr.
15 minutes, 1 point, 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 1-for-2 free throws, 56.8% TS, -16
Porter saw his minutes shrink quite a bit, and it was the right call in this game, as he struggled to make an impact. His presence just wasn’t felt, and his defense wasn’t very good.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
37 minutes, 33 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 10-for-23 shooting, 3-for-11 threes, 10-for-14 free throws, 56.6% TS, -4
Three main takeaways from Curry’s game.
First, he played 37 minutes. Add in the fact that the Warriors finally lost a game, and I think we can say with pretty good confidence that the chef will be back in the starting lineup when Wednesday rolls around.
Second, he missed four free throws for the first time in his career. What a weird thing to happen, but also what an incredible stat.
Third, he had five stocks and just one foul! Pretty cool defensive game for Steph.
Curry struggled to find his offense in the first half, but came to life in the second half and had some of the biggest shots as the Dubs got back into it and nearly stole a victory. He looks ready to close things out in SF.
Gary Payton II
7 minutes, 0 points, 1 steal, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, -9
Like Bjelica, Payton got largely cut out of the rotation for this game, and didn’t do much to prove he should’ve been in it.
Sunday’s DNPs: Damion Lee, Moses Moody, Juan Toscano-Anderson
Sunday’s inactives: James Wiseman