The Nuggets started Game 2 strong behind Nikola Jokic, who had 12 points and six rebounds in the first quarter. At one point, they even built an 11-point lead, but by the end of the first they were only ahead 26-25 after the Warriors had a little run of their own. Jokic came in focused, and was also a bit more intense on the court than usual. At one point, he almost got into it with Gary Payton II.
Unfortunate luck for Nuggets as Austin Rivers went down and was visibly in pain early in the second quarter. The Warriors went on a 13-0 run in the middle of the second quarter to turn a 12-point deficit into their first lead at 44-43 with 4:11 left in the period. Steph Curry was the one who gave them that lead.
The Warriors kept the floodgates open once they smelled blood. By the end of the second quarter, they had completed an 18-point turnaround to take a 57-51 lead into the second half. Curry led them in scoring at the break with 16 points off the bench, while Jordan Poole (14) and Klay Thompson (10) were also in double-digits. The Dubs started 1 of 7 from three but then closed out the first half making seven of their next 13 triples.
At this rate, Steve Kerr may have to take a long and hard look at talking to Curry about coming off the bench on a regular basis, depending on who they’re matched up with. Poole is thriving in his starting role, and grows even more fearless as the Warriors continue to give him more run.
Curry also thrived off the bench in Game 2. The greatest shooter of all time lived up to his name and was unstoppable while coming off the pine.
With Curry and Poole both shooting the lights out, Thompson also got to enjoy himself. Instead of just taking a lot of threes, Thompson found himself open for a number buckets in the paint along with good jumpshot opportunities because of the attention that the other two splash brothers drew. Yes, I’m going to permanently call Poole a splash brother now, because he’s earned it.
It would be foolish for the Warriors to take away any of their prized third-year player’s momentum, and I feel that more time as a starter will only do him good. Coach Kerr knows a thing or two about the kind of impact a star-level player can make if they sacrifice a starting role, since he played with arguably the greatest sixth man of all time in Manu Ginobli.
Curry, who still has god-tier cardio and the league’s best second wind, would be an unbelievable problem to deal with. If he’s bringing in his shooting and movement when opponents are already getting worn out by Poole and Thompson, he’s going to keep getting great looks at the basket. Then, on those important moments where all three of them are on the court, there’s precious little an opposing team can do to prevent at least one of them from going off. Running double-teams when they’re all on the floor is simply suicide. Hell, Curry was having so much fun that he even ended up pulling off a Tim Duncan-esque turnaround jumper off the glass in the fourth quarter.
Here’s what Golden State’s hot-shooting trio’s numbers looked like by the end of the game:
- Steph Curry (23 minutes): 34 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal, one blocks (12 of 17 field goals, 5 of 10 threes)
- Jordan Poole (34 minutes): 29 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one block (10 of 16 field goals, 5 of 10 threes)
- Klay Thompson (36 minutes): 21 points, two rebounds, one assist, one block (9 of 19 field goals, 3 of 8 threes)
If the success continues to come, I also don’t see a reason why Curry would really care about being a sixth man. He’s made his money and gotten plenty of personal accolades. The only thing left to care about is winning, and allowing Poole to grow and thrive could prolong his career and his championship window.
Yes, it’s only been two games. However, it’s looking real good so far. I can’t wait to see what happens in Game 3. The Nuggets may not be, though, considering that Jokic was so frustrated for the game that he ended up getting tossed in the fourth quarter. There was even a little scuffle between Will Barton and DeMarcus Cousins during the game before they eventually lost 126-106.
It’s also worth noting that the rest of the Warriors played great because they didn’t have to force any plays. Andrew Wiggins had 13 points and eight rebounds, while Draymond Green had an effective quintuple-single of four points, three rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block while playing point-forward. The one thing they’re not going to like is how Poole looked to have hurt himself in garbage time.