In a 128-123 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night at Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ laborious comeback attempt was cut short by the final buzzer.
Steve Kerr took pride in his team’s second-half competitive fervour after the game. The Warriors’ head coach believed that their poor defensive play in the opening 24 minutes of the game—a flaw mostly brought on by effort and intensity—was what ultimately doomed them against Denver.
Simply put, Kerr remarked, “our lack of defensive energy from the beginning is the tale of the game.” “In the opening period, they scored 40 points. They certainly were the aggressors and got into such a terrific rhythm. Because of their defeat in Utah a few nights earlier, we anticipated them to come out and play like this. They simply came out much more forcefully than we did, in my opinion, and established the tone. At that time, playing upstream against a top squad is difficult.
Golden State’s comeback was led by Draymond Green, who was instrumental on both sides of the ball, cleaning up numerous errors all over the floor as a helper and performing heroic work checking Nikola Jokic one-on-one. After the break, he scored all of his 13 points and provided eight of his nine assists. His total defensive effort was praised by Kerr as “amazing,” and his defence was “very on target.”
That final judgement, insisted a defiant Green, was incorrect. But he agreed with Kerr that the Warriors had already lost this game.
“I believe we didn’t have a strong defensive presence in the outset. After five minutes of play, they had 20 points. Therefore, I’m to blame,” Green remarked. “Whether or not I was there, our defence was terrible.”
Green is much less to blame than most for Golden State’s weak defence in the first half. He had a significant impact, whether it was positive or negative, on his team’s Friday performance relative to other teams on that side of the court. However, statistics are facts, and the Nuggets’ offensive rating with Green in the game was 116.4, exceeding the highest record in the league from the previous campaign.
But as you delve further, cautious hope emerges. After the break, what was the Warriors’ defensive rating? A tight 109.4, displaying the kind of defensive strength that would have easily been sufficient to defeat the two-time defending MVP. Golden State simply started off in too big of a hole.
The entire effort in the second half, according to Kerr, “was what I thought was lacking in the first, and that’s what put us in danger tonight.”
The first version of this article, “Story of the game: Steve Kerr, Draymond Green on what doomed Warriors vs. Nuggets,” was published on ClutchPoints.