Tonight, the Warriors are going to face the Nuggets in the best of seven series, but like Mark Jackson said, game one only sets the tone. Many assume that a team is going to win just by their performance in game one.
The Warriors, however, were the only team close enough to not get blown out in the first game of the series, and coincidentally, were playing the best home team in the NBA. A loss may be a loss, but this is definitely saying something.
If the Warriors can get a split in the two away games, which is what they’re looking for, they can go back to their home of Oakland and take on the below-average Nuggets (on the road). The Warriors may not have the best home record in the NBA, but they have the best home crowd, and sometimes, like the 2007 playoffs, that can be a huge factor. Ever free throw, steal, and pretty much anything good, the crowd goes wild.
With that being said, the Warriors had a great game, but there were a couple things that they failed to do. The playoff inexperience didn’t show at all, but there’s still things that we saw in game one, good and bad.
Inexperience Won’t Matter This Early:
All the experience, that teams like the Boston Celtics, becomes a huge factor, right? Well, not exactly. When a youthful team like the Warriors are playing in their first playoff series, for most of their players, they’re not going to play much different than the regular season. Not trying to call out the Nuggets fans, but they didn’t really seem any different than a normal crowd.
This means that the Warriors can zone out that crowd more easily, and still make and take big shots. For guys like Klay Thompson, who was hot the whole game, and Stephen Curry, who heated up later, it’s just another game. Why would it be any different, it’s not like the Nuggets are a different team right? In the first round, inexperience usually doesn’t get to the young ones. Curry finished with 19 points, while Thompson finished with 22.
If It’s Not One, It’s the Other:
Ty Lawson, the leader of this young Nugget squad played atrociously for someone who was building up on the playoffs for the whole week. He wanted to lead the Nuggets so badly that he forgot to make some shots. The Warriors should have been very happy with shutting down Lawson, as well as Wilson Chandler, and Andre Iguodala. Unfortunately for them, the depth of Denver really showed, with Andre Miller exploding for 28 points.
Jarrett Jack should have been able to defend Miller, but found himself at the mercy of a step back 15 footer, which splashed through most of the time. The Warriors went a different way and put rookie Draymond Green on him. The rookie was taken right to the basket, and Miller got an easy reverse layup for the first game-winner of his career. The Warriors’ defense was phenomenal, but the depth of the Nuggets took its toll.
The Turnover Situation Is Problematic:
Saying that the Warriors turn the ball over a lot in the most crucial times is an understatement. This could be because they don’t exactly know what the right decision is to make, or it could be because of the Nugget defense. Personally, however, I believe that the Warriors could slow the tempo of the game and make a lot less errors. In fact, they’re going to need to do that if they want to win game two, and in the long run, the series.
The most blatant turnovers were both a result of Curry. He was running the clock down, started his drive too early, and Andre Iguodala ended up with an easy layup to cut the Warrior lead to four. That could have been a momentum changer. At the end of the game, Curry had picked up his dribble, and Lawson came right up behind him and stole the ball. He scored a layup to make it a three point game.
David Lee’s Injury Could Be a Blessing in Disguise:
This one is very questionable for the Warriors. Their star forward who got them all the way to the postseason was bested by Curry, who is now, without a doubt, the face of the franchise. Curry is an incredible shooter, a tricky point guard, and an excellent passer. He can easily lead the Warriors. With Lee being out, Andrew Bogut will get more rebounds, and Carl Landry can easily step into his role.
Landry is a bit younger than Lee, so he may be able to account for some of Kenneth Faried’s energy. Faried is technically a small forward, but he works at the power forward position. This means that Landry has a height advantage on him. For Landry’s bench minutes, Draymond Green or Richard Jefferson, two defensive players, could take the role of that. It may be risky to say the Warriors can do better, but it’s certainly not time to give up now that he’s injured.