Monday Musings: Christmas win, KD dominates and Nuggets provide a wake-up call

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 25: Klay Thompson
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 25: Klay Thompson /
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Things I Liked

OAKLAND, CA – DECEMBER 25: Kevin Durant
OAKLAND, CA – DECEMBER 25: Kevin Durant /

The Christmas Day win. Growing up, I would always be jealous of teams who got to play on Christmas because I knew the Warriors wouldn’t be one of them. Playing on Christmas is kind of a rite of passage indicating that your team has arrived.

Crazy that now, we’ve come to expect — and look forward to — the Warriors-Cavs Christmas battles. There’s always something extra, something special about this game.

This was a big win for the Warriors, not just because they beat the Cavs but also as a rebound game from their bad loss to the Nuggets on Saturday.

They played tremendous defense, holding the Cavs to 32 percent shooting and blocking eight shots. And another great game from …

Kevin Durant. Need I say more? The man has continued to deliver in Steph’s absence. He dropped 36 at the Lakers last Monday, including the game-winner over Lonzo Ball, and then poured in 33 more points at home against the Lakers on Friday.

What impresses me most about KD is that even with Steph and Draymond out, he doesn’t pull a Russell Westbrook and take over the team. He still plays within the offense, shares the ball and isn’t selfish. Sure, there are moments when he takes over the game, simply because he’s too good not to. And there’s also …

Kevin Durant’s defense. We know what he can do offensively. We know he can carry a team and score at will. But we have yet to see him be that same monster defensively — and he’s showing that he can this season. Look at this play:

Look at his hustle on defense, his willingness to leap at the rim to block shots. He is averaging more than two blocks a game, good enough for second in the league. He relishes in it too, clapping his hands and celebrating when he makes a big defensive play. That is not a superstar trying to boost his ego; it is a superstar just trying to improve his game. And that says a lot about the type of player Kevin Durant is.

The Warriors already have a stalwart defensive front, sporting the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Draymond Green and another leaper in Jordan Bell. But Durant’s resurgence on defense gives them another weapon to utilize. He also came up big in …

The Lakers-Warriors games. These are always fun, no matter how good or bad either team is. I loved the two matchups last week. The first went to overtime. The second came down to the wire as well.

It seems like the Lakers have a little bit of extra energy when they play the Warriors, and you can see it reflect on their play. This is young, talented team that is already giving the Warriors fits, from Ball to Brandon Ingram to Kyle Kuzma to Julius Randle. Plus, you know Luke Walton wants to beat his former boss, Steve Kerr. Speaking of Kerr’s decisions, I liked …

Starting Jordan Bell at center. Even though Zaza Pachulia was healthy again the Cavs, Kerr stuck with the rookie in his starting lineup.

Kerr said that he started Bell because of matchups and he would start Pachulia on Wednesday against the Jazz, but you could tell that Bell is the starting center of the future for the Warriors.

He’s more athletic than Pachulia, a better shot blocker, better finisher at the rim and far less clumsy. He can move the ball on offense and bring the ball up. If he ever develops a jump shot, look out.