Blockbuster matchups this early into the season are treats that should be taken with a grain of salt.

Squads are still rounding out into form and the mindsets of teams are set on having a solid 82-game season even if public pronouncements have been centered on taking things “one game at a time.”

Nevertheless, the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets had the makings of a seismic matchup that was also billed as a potential finals preview. All signs pointed to a high-scoring affair, as both Durant and Curry entered this game as the NBA’s top two scorers. Moreover, the Warriors were the highest scoring team in the league at 115.1 points per game.

In the end, it was a total team effort from Golden State, who got a game-high 37 points from Stephen Curry. Curry set the tone early by matching the shotmaking of Kevin Durant, who finished with 19 points, 16 of which came in the first half.


Curry’s teammates followed his lead in the second half, as the Warriors went on a 8-0 run at the start of the third quarter to build a lead that went to as high as 28 points, earning them cheers from the Nets crowd. Brooklyn couldn’t match their effort as Durant missed all his second half field-goal attempts and sat out the fourth quarter, while James Harden’s 24 points and Bruce Brown’s 14 points went for naught.

Golden State deployed some defensive schemes reminiscent of your high school varsity team when they used the box-and-one and triangle-and-two to contain the likes of Durant, Harden, and Patty Mills. Hounding Durant and Harden with a combination of Andrew Wiggins, Andre Iguodala, and Gary Payton II also proved effective in slowing them down as even a made shot wasn’t a walk in the park for the Nets stars.

The Warriors’ depth was also on full display as every single available player played, with only three of their 13 players remaining scoreless at halftime. Meanwhile, Brooklyn stuck with an eight-man rotation in the competitive parts of the game, with the rest of the team entering the game after Golden State made their decisive third-quarter run.

Could it be that the Warriors trust their players more than the Nets? That’s possible since the Golden State roster is composed of savvy veterans who fit Golden State’s system and homegrown players who are slowly realizing their potential. Brooklyn has their own set of veterans in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldrige, but their presence barely made a dent in this game.

Curry’s chemistry with Draymond Green is a tale as old as time, but it’s how he works with his other teammates that makes this Warriors team even more dangerous. Steph kicking out to shooters is a given and something defenders are more than familiar with, but when his other teammates give him screens and work with him in delaying and flipping matchups, opposing teams are at times left scratching their heads, wondering what else they can do short of fouling.

Even with the way the game played out, it’s hard not to forget that both teams are missing key players. On the Nets’ side, the situation surrounding Kyrie Irving remains uncertain as he has yet to receive the vaccine that would allow him to play in New York. Joe Harris and Nic Claxton sat out due to sprained left ankle and an undisclosed non-COVID illness, respectively, while Paul Millsap was out due to personal reasons. Meanwhile the Warriors are still awaiting the return of both Klay Thomspon and James Wiseman from their respective leg injuries. 

Even without Irving, this game speaks volumes of how heavily reliant Brooklyn is on Durant and Harden. Harris being out only complicates matters as the spacing now changes without one of their reliable shooters. Mills was a candidate to fill in for Harris, but he was largely off-target after he scored the game’s opening basket. Meanwhile, the minutes Harris left behind would also mean opportunities for Thomas, but given that he’s only played 45 minutes this season, it seems that the Nets can’t trust him yet with meaningful minutes despite a solid showing in the summer league and preseason.

There is a chance that the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors will face each other in the NBA Finals. The Nets and the Warriors will probably look different once June rolls in and both teams could have momentum entering the championship round, but at the moment, Brooklyn has their work cut out for them.