By John Krolik
Special to The Examiner
It’s still early in the season, but the prospect of a Warriors-Nets Finals seems very possible.
The Warriors have surged out of the gate to claim the league’s best record, even with Klay Thompson still on the sidelines. The Nets, meanwhile, simply have too much talent to be counted out at any point. Even if Kyrie Irving doesn’t play this season, the James Harden-Kevin Durant duo might just be too much for any other team in the league to handle.
Earlier this week, the two teams met in a highly-anticipated showdown that turned into a statement win for Golden State. The Nets stayed competitive throughout the first half, but the Warriors turned it on with one of their signature third-quarter beatdowns and never looked back, prevailing 117-99 on the road.
Then on Thursday night, Steph Curry scored 40 points in a 104-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, leading the way to a league-best 13-2 record.
Tuesday night’s game was simply indicative of what the Warriors have been doing all season. They moved the ball, they applied the pressure defensively, they got out on the break and their opponents were eventually unable to stand up against their constant pressure, motion, and ball movement. The Warriors’ depth helped them wear Brooklyn down. Only eight Nets players got more than 10 minutes of playing time on Tuesday, while 11 Warriors were on the floor for more than 10 minutes.
Then, of course, there was Curry who scored 37 points on 19 shots in 29 minutes. Nine of his 12 made field goals were from beyond the arc, and a majority of those threes were simply undefendable. Curry was pulling up with impunity from well beyond the three-point line, and his shots found their mark time after time.
The Warriors did get fortunate in a few ways. The Nets’ best spot-up shooter, Joe Harris, was out of action Tuesday, and the Nets desperately needed more players capable of stretching the floor. Durant went 6-19 from the field. While credit should be given to the Warriors’ defense for preventing him from getting many easy shots, Warriors fans know that when KD is on, he’s just as unstoppable as Curry. Where Curry uses distance from the hoop to make his shot unblockable, the 7-foot Durant will often rise up above a defender who would otherwise be in a good position to bother his shot and use distance from the floor to make his shot unblockable.
However, it’s not like the Warriors played their best game, either. They turned it over 21 times. Despite Curry’s incredible performance from beyond the arc, they shot just 32.5% from deep as a team. Jordan Poole went 0-7 from three, and the bench combined to go 1-14 from that distance.
The scariest part of all? Before the playoffs begin, Thompson will be back, and don’t expect him to have many games where he goes 0-7 from beyond the arc. On Tuesday night, the Warriors showed their hot start isn’t merely a curiosity — after two difficult years, the Warriors are back, and the rest of the league should be very nervous indeed.
John Krolik is a freelance contributor to The Examiner.