Even for those with the most unreasonably high expectations for the Warriors’ upcoming season can’t have really expected the Dubs to knock off the Nuggets in Denver. Preseason or not, the Nuggets are a better team than the Warriors. There’s no getting around it. Denver was much better than its record last season, and with the addition of Andre Iguodala over the summer, the Nuggets figure to challenge for one of the top four spots in the Western Conference playoff picture.
So, even though the Warriors got crushed on the boards 52-41, lost the turnover battle and didn’t make their free throws (13-for-22 as a team), there’s no reason to start ringing the alarm. In fact, there’s plenty to be proud of, even though the Warriors left Denver with a six-point loss.
For starters, the Warriors held the Nuggets to 39 percent shooting, while making 48 percent of their own shots. It’s pretty hard to lose a game where the field-goal percentage disparity is that wide. Of course, one of the ways to pull off that trick is to give Denver 17 extra possessions on the offensive boards. Enough of that; back to the positives.
Stephen Curry logged 24 minutes, continuing the upward trend in his preseason playing time. He also scored a tidy 25 points on just 15 shots. Klay Thompson also shot it well, especially from three, where he hit four of his six attempts. Oh, and Jarrett Jack finally had a decent game, totaling six points and five assists (against zero turnovers) in just 20 minutes.
Looking ahead, Mark Jackson’s rotation appears to be taking a more solid shape. Harrison Barnes started again, alongside Curry, Thompson, David Lee and Festus Ezeli. Carl Landry, Brandon Rush and Jarrett Jack played the most off the bench, with each totaling at least 15 minutes. Once Bogut returns, expect him to join the apparent nine-man rotation as the starting center. On paper, that looks pretty nice. Unless you’re Richard Jefferson, who despite his solid 8:52 of playing time, doesn’t look to be a big part of the team’s rotation.
On the whole, the Warriors played with the Nuggets on their court—despite lacking their franchise center—and left with a narrow loss. By addressing any one of the three key problems in this one (rebounding, turnovers and missed free throws), the Dubs could easily have won the game. And considering Stephen Curry finished the contest feeling more confident in his ankle than ever, things didn’t turn out all bad.
The Warriors will be back at it October 17 against the Sacramento Kings.