It didn’t matter to the Warriors that the Nuggets were playing for the second consecutive night and the third time in four nights.
This was about the Warriors continuing to get right with themselves, and their 127-108 clobbering of the Nuggets on Saturday in Denver was another step in the direction in which they want to go.
It was an exquisite way for the defending champs to end a three-game road trip, considering the Warriors departed a week ago wearing the discomfort that came with an Oct. 29 loss to the Pistons at Oracle Arena.
“We just got better,” Draymond Green told reporters in Denver. “We’re starting to put it together on both ends of the floor. We’re taking better care of the ball and we’re playing better defense. That’s the recipe and we know that. It took us a couple weeks to lock into that but I think we’ve gotten there and we need to keep it up.”
When the Warriors opened the season losing two of their first three games and were 4-3 after seven games, there was concern within the fan base. It was a reasonable reaction, too, given they didn’t lose their third game last season until December.
Were the Warriors still feeling the effects of their disruptive preseason, when they spent a week in training camp in Oakland, followed by eight days in China, followed by eight days back in Oakland?
Unquestionably, yes. They appeared physically sluggish and, all too often, imprudent.
The players and coaches recognized the shortcomings and the reasons behind them and were confident adjustments would be made once they took to the road.
“Getting on the road was good for us in terms of planting that fear,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Sometimes you need to get on the road to feel more threatened. A team like (the Warriors), especially that’s used to being successful, I thought we took a couple of those home games for granted and we weren’t defending or bringing energy.”
Though the Warriors never were in real danger while beating the Clippers by 28 in LA, they needed comebacks to trounce the Spurs by 20 and the Nuggets by 19.
“The Clippers always bring the best out in us because we know they’re in our division and they play us tough and we’ve got to bring it,” Kerr said.
After struggling on defense over the first seven games, the Warriors seemed to rediscover that aspect, which has been one of their strengths. They held opponents on the trip to 43.5-percent shooting, 31.5 percent beyond the arc.
As the defense surfaced, the Warriors also continued to shoot well, averaging 55.1 percent from the field over the three games. Moreover, they were incredibly deadly beyond the arc, shooting 47.4 percent.
“The last few games we’ve been shooting hot,” said Kevin Durant, who during the three games shot 59.5 percent and 53.3 percent from deep. “We want to continue to do that and I think we’ve been generating good looks. We’re making the right passes, making the right plays and guys are trusting their work and knocking down their shots. We’ve got to continue that if we want to be successful.”
Kerr said it was a “good week,” and who can argue. The Warriors left Oakland with a 4-3 record. They were 7-3 upon their return.
And now they’ll be home, playing four games over nine days. The physical and mental aspects are coming together. It’s early, yet, but it’s Go Time nonetheless.