The Golden State Warriors collected their NBA championship rings on opening night before smashing the Los Angeles Lakers, 123-109. After watching this game, it looks like we could experience déjà vu this time next year. It’s only one game, but there isn’t a team in the NBA that can contain this offense once the postseason rolls around.
This version of the Warriors might not be as dominant as the version with Kevin Durant. They’re just as good all around, though, because of depth and the ability to defend at a high level. In fact, this version could surpass the 2016-19 version because they’ve meshed the old and the new together and already proved you can win a championship while building for the future. After watching that performance against the Lakers, the Warriors are clearly hungry for more.
Stephen Curry didn’t have a great shooting night but still led all scorers with 33 points. Golden State has so many ways it can dismantle a team that it’s almost unfair. On any night, Klay Thompson could be the one to make you pay. The next night, it might be Andrew Wiggins, then Jordan Poole. Now James Wiseman is back in the fold, and in his first game back, he contributed eight points, seven rebounds, and a blocked shot.
A little drama never hurts
Draymond Green is still Draymond Green and posted his usual triple-single while leading the effort on defense. As bad as the Green-Poole punch incident was made out to be, that seems to have been put behind them and now the goal is winning back-to-back titles. Golden State held LA to 43 percent from the field and a despicable 25 percent from three-point range. We’ll give more credit to the Lakers than the Warriors for the horrible shooting from deep because they couldn’t shoot it last year either, and it seems not much has changed in that regard.
One thing you look for in a team’s first couple of games after winning a championship the previous season is how hungry they are. Are they still going to make that extra pass, close out hard on that shooter in the corner, or fight on the glass for rebounds? The Warriors checked all those boxes in game one, and it feels like we’re headed down the same road as last year, only this time, there are more believers onboard the Golden State train headed to Kingsville.
Deeper than most
Depth is a killer, and when you add quality minutes to that, it’s a lethal combination. The Warriors had 10 players that logged at least 13 minutes on the floor last night. As expected, Curry, Thompson, Poole, and Wiggins all scored double-figures. The bench is where Golden State has a massive advantage over most teams, and that was no different on Tuesday night.
Golden State’s bench outscored LA’s 41-24, and there’s your ball game, folks. The bench was outscored by 17, and the Lakers lost this game by 14, 123-109. While the stars usually shine bright for the Warriors, what separates them is their bench and how easily they plug guys in. Donte DiVincenzo came over to Golden State in the offseason and, in his first game, shot 50 percent overall and from three-point land. JaMychal Green, another offseason acquisition, shot 50 percent from the field and over 66 percent on his threes.
There aren’t many teams in the Western Conference who can match the Warriors. The Clippers might have the best opportunity based on their personnel and depth, but in a clutch situation in the postseason, the Warriors have proven to be head and shoulders above the rest too many times. Some have picked the Denver Nuggets to storm the West and capture the No. 1 seed.
That could happen, as it isn’t about regular-season success for the Warriors at this point. There will be points in the season where they don’t look quite like themselves, just like last season. But when it counts, they’ll be there in the end because they know what it takes to win and know they need to set a steady pace through the regular season.
As for the Lakers. Just pray. Much prayer will be needed to put this team in a position to compete for a championship. Competing to make the playoffs might be a big enough battle for LeBron James’ crew. There will be lots of stat sheet stuffing in L.A. this year as James chases Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.
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