The highway by way of the West may look totally different. It is not as new and glossy because it was 4 years in the past. It even sports activities some pesky potholes that should be crammed, patted down, and, if essential, fastened once more.
Nevertheless it’s nonetheless the identical highway, and that highway goes by way of Golden State. Denver discovered as a lot on Friday in a conflict of the West’s greatest. The Warriors quenched any early drama by opening the sport with a 15-Three onslaught. The defending champs’ third choice (Klay Thompson) had 27 factors by halftime. Denver did not get a 3rd scorer in double figures till 5:01 remained within the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant, Draymond Inexperienced and DeMarcus Cousins completely swarmed the youthful Nuggets on protection, forcing them right into a putrid 37.9-percent capturing efficiency.
Even after being initially overwhelmed, a quick second of intrigue bloomed. Denver clawed their manner inside eight late within the third quarter, the Nuggets’ key contributors stepping up whereas the Warriors endured a stretch of Kevin Durant misses and premature turnovers.
Then, just like the online game group they’ve develop into, the Warriors flipped to Corridor of Fame mode. Durant and-one. Kevon Looney dunk. Stephen Curry bomb. Recreation over.
Nobody is complicated these Warriors with the 2014-15 storm that swept the league. Or the 73-win regular-season juggernaut. And even the yr 1 A.D. (after Durant). They’ve have already got 20 losses effectively earlier than reaching 50 wins. Their level differential is plus-5.eight. These are the marks of a very good group. Not an important one.
These are additionally regular-season marks, achievements for which the back-to-back champs weigh calmly. However when the pot deserves their full consideration, when the stakes really matter — and it type of mattered in opposition to the West’s second-best group, one which entered only one recreation again within the standings — the Warriors develop into the Warriors.
That group? Nobody has discovered an reply for that. Not but.
L.A.’s playoff group
The Clippers went toe-to-toe with the star-studded Thunder and got here away victorious.
Everybody pegged the flawed Los Angeles ball membership to succeed in the postseason, and yeah, the Clippers are loving it. Greater than that, they’re incomes it, even after buying and selling arguably their most All-Star worthy participant (Tobias Harris) earlier than the deadline.
Hasn’t mattered, largely as a result of the Clippers rank a stingy seventh on protection for the reason that commerce. In the meantime, their offense (16th) has been simply ok to maintain up with — and beat — groups just like the Thunder, whom they held off 118-110 on Friday.
With Harris gone, Lou Williams has re-donned his tremendous sixth man cape. Since Harris was shipped to Philadelphia, Williams has been averaging 23.1 factors, 5.7 assists and 1.2 steals in simply 28.2 minutes per recreation. His 40-point efficiency in opposition to the Thunder marked his 28th profession recreation with 30 or extra off the bench — a brand new NBA report.
The Clippers have additional buffered Harris’ departure with an surprising spike in manufacturing from Montrezl Harrell, who has erupted for 18.2 factors per recreation on 61.1 % capturing for the reason that commerce.
Now LA finds itself simply proportion factors out of sixth place within the West. Whether or not they overtake Utah for that spot or not, the Clippers have a coin flip’s probability of dealing with a well-recognized face in spherical one: Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets.
To dam the unblockable
Raise your heads, perimeter defenders. After months of looking out, hope has been present in defending James Harden’s unguardable step-back Three-pointer.
When you’re 6-foot-10, boast a 7-foot wingspan and make use of the quickness of Kemba Walker, you can also block the Beard.
In beginning alongside Jonas Valanciunas, Joakim Noah made his first NBA begin since Feb. four, 2017. The previous Kia Defensive Participant of the 12 months performed a strong function (seven factors, eight rebounds, 4 assists, two blocks) in Memphis’ shocking 114-104 win over Utah.
Do not do that at house
Jabari Parker bought away with a minor spine-tingler on this post-whistle try. You won’t be so fortunate together with your flimsy plastic hoop.
Do not do that at work
Andre Drummond strengthened his fame as arguably one of the best rebounder of this NBA technology, amassing 20 factors and 24 boards in Detroit’s 112-104 win over the Bulls.
What he didn’t do is encourage Pistons coach Dwane Casey to attract up Three-point performs.