Stephen Curry Returns, and Golden State Beats the Nuggets

Klay Thompson was splashing out on 3 points. Draymond Green was making stops and was adept at finding open cutters. Stephen Curry drew several defenders each time he touched the ball.

The trio, who redefined basketball on their way to winning multiple tournaments with the Golden State Warriors, reunited on Saturday in the playoffs for the first time since 2019. And like many games at the time, the High Octane Warriors dominated, defeating the Denver Nuggets. at the start of the first round playoff game, 123-107.

In an unexpected move, Curry started the game on the bench. Instead, coach Steve Kerr put Jordan Poole on guard for the third year in a row, and he took a leap this year. The move seemed to be aimed at keeping Curry within a strict minute limit. It was his first game since March 16 as he injured his left foot against the Boston Celtics.

The exchange paid off. Poole was unbeaten in the first round of his career, scoring 30 points – a high game – in 9 and 13 shots, electrifying the people at the San Francisco Chase Center. He acted as if he was the mainstay of post-season basketball. At one point, he did a dance after getting a difficult basket. It was a night like that. He played for one of the most talented teams in league history in a stellar team, stealing a 22-year-old selected from the 28th draft pick in 2019 who tried to regain the Golden State NBA throne.

“Jordan Poole, wow, what a playoff debut,” Thompson told reporters after the game, adding: “We should be very grateful for Jordan’s development and the kind of player he has become, because he’s awesome. .

The last time Curry came off the bench was on May 1, 2018, the second game of the Western Conference Finals against the New Orleans Pelicans when he was recovering from a knee injury. On Saturday, against Denver, only the third game of Curry’s career was played, but it didn’t start.

He entered the competition in the middle of the first quarter with a thunderous round of applause. Almost immediately, Curry felt his presence, Thompson found a 3-point open in the corner and silenced a pass between the two defenders to dunk at Green Green. Otherwise, he struggled, throwing 5 for 13 from the field with 16 points. But his presence alone still caught the attention of the Nuggets, and the Warriors outscored Denver by 17 points with Curry on the ground.

“It was nice to feel the playoff atmosphere again, and of course it’s different to get out of the chair and try to make the most of the right minutes at the moment,” Curry said.

Pool’s strong game presents a dilemma — a good one — for Kerr. With Curry back, can Poole be sent to the bench for the rest of the playoffs?

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Kerr said.

Pooler’s solid game will give Kerr more chances for the rest of the series. On the one hand, Curry, Thompson and Poole can extend the lineup of three guards: three players and one shooter. In the last decade’s tournament, the Warriors are reminiscent of the close-ups of small balls they used to spread at their best – except that Pool plays the role of Andre Iguodala, who now plays a smaller role.

An added benefit of Poole’s creation is that it alleviates Golden State’s rampage from Curry’s shoe injury. Ker refused to sign Curry back from the bench for Game 2 on Monday.

Thompson, meanwhile, looked like the player he was before he broke his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the 2019 NBA Finals. He moved quickly to find himself looking open, on his way to a five-point, 19-point total.

“Before the tip I thought about every day of the gym, going to the doctor’s office, the operating table and then flying up and down the court, hitting shots and playing strong defense, it was a surreal moment. for me, ”Thompson said after the game.

Denver, meanwhile, will have to return to the drawing board.

Golden State Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was the second most valuable player to win the award. The Warriors constantly forced Jokic into a difficult shot and frustrated him with a steady stream of double teams. They also tried to tire the defense by establishing themselves as the main defenders. Taking possession of the property, Jokic Golden State was sent in a hurry after the fastballs.

“They were better than us in every aspect of the game,” Jokic said.

But the Warriors also have Green, who won the Player of the Year Award in 2016-17. He was able to do something that most defenders couldn’t do: protect Jokic individually for various possessions, release Golden State teammates to be tied to other Nuggets players that Jokic could pass.

By the time the fourth quarter arrived, Jokic looked tired. He scored 25 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. The free kick went twice, despite trying 25 shots. Denver appeared frustrated with the arbitration.

I think there were times when, you know, they were pulling out a lot of their jerseys, “said Nuggets coach Mike Malone.” So I don’t know. We need to see how they care and how we can pay them how they care.”.

When a reporter asked him about his job with Jokic after the match, he said, “Friend, I think I’ll be fined if I answer.”

The playoffs returned to the post-season spotlight of the top Golden State players who won tournaments in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Curry, Green, Thompson and Iguodala are the four leaders in franchise history in post-season games. But this was largely due to injuries, the first time the Warriors have made the playoffs since 2019, when the team lost six games to the Toronto Raptors in the finals. The only time Laura played the same game this year was on Jan. 9, when Thompson’s first return leg was lost due to a two-season leg injury. Green started the match briefly to help Thompson before sitting down for the rest of the night.

Both teams suffered serious injuries during the season. Green missed more than two months of the regular season with a back injury for Golden State. For Denver, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray lost most or all of the season; they can often relieve Jokic of pressure to play.

It was Denver’s fourth year in a row in the playoffs; the team has come out of the first round of the last three seasons.

There’s a source of peace of mind for Denver: In each of those series, the Nuggets lost their first game. The Nuggets will try to tie the seven-game series in a single game on Monday. But they looked to get over it on Saturday night.

“We can’t beat ourselves and the Warriors in the same game,” Malon said. “We did that tonight.”

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