Warriors refuse to look ahead before Game 3 vs. Nuggets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea:
DENVER – Sample sizes only become smaller in the NBA playoffs, now that the 82-game regular season is behind us.
It’s no secret that the Warriors are the only Western Conference playoff team that won their first two games of their first-round series. That includes the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and the No. 2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, the two teams in the West who finished with better regular-season records than Golden State. Though it has only been two games, the Warriors have looked like the best in the West with two blowout wins against the Denver Nuggets.
Really, they’ve been the most dominant team thus far of these playoffs, especially when Steve Kerr unleashes his To Be Determined group of Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.
But when the mere thought of sweeping the Nuggets or taking the series in five games, Kerr refused to look ahead Thursday during shootaround at Ball Arena before the Warriors’ Game 3 matchup with the Nuggets.
“Yeah, we’re not going down that path,” Kerr said. “It’s 2-0, we’ve won two home games. We’re concerned about winning tonight’s game.”
The Warriors went 31-10 in the regular season at Chase Center, which was second to just the Suns regarding home-court advantage. They were 22-19 on the road – a winning record but far from superior to the competition.
Denver did not exactly run its opponents off the floor at home, finishing with a 23-18 record in its backyard. Whether it be the elevation or rowdy home fans, the Warriors know the playoffs are a different ballgame and expect a rocking arena come Thursday night.
Kerr also knows the Nuggets will not back down and will scratch and claw to get in the win column.
“A lot of fight, a lot of physicality,” Kerr said of what he’s preparing to see from the Nuggets. “They’re gonna try to get their home crowd in it and we’ve got to be really sharp early. Can’t turn to the ball over, we’ve got to box out. We can’t give them early momentum with our mistakes.
“They’re a hell of a team, so they’re gonna come out expecting to play well. It’s one thing for them to execute and make shots. It’s another thing for us to make mistakes and allow them to get separation. That’s the focus tonight to start the game. “
The Warriors routinely have started slow. They trailed by one after the first quarter in Game 1, and the same goes for Game 2. Now that they’re on the road, they can’t wait to put their foot on the gas. That has to be evident right from the opening tip.
Steph Curry when later asked the same questions as Kerr, was basically right in sync with his head coach.
“Game 2 is a conversation of us not falling into human nature and getting complacent,” he said. “Played well in Game 1, we obviously answered the call in Game 2. Everybody who’s been through a playoff series understands the difference between taking care of your business at home and how hard it is on the road.
“There’s gonna be an increased level of physicality, we’re gonna face adversity that we probably haven’t faced during the first two games. Their crowd’s going to be in it.”
Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is going to get his, and there’s a good chance he puts up big box-score numbers like he did in the first two games. The Warriors just have to keep making him work overtime for those stats.
Role players feel more comfortable at home, and they could easily catch fire with Nuggets fans on their feet. That’s understandable. It’s part of the game, part of the battle of the playoffs.
What can’t be an excuse is failing to match Denver’s demeanor and letting too many early punches cause an early knockout.
“If we can not match their energy, then we do not have a shot at all,” Curry said. “That’s the one thing you can control. You can not control makes and misses. Sometimes certain things happen in a game where it’s just basketball. But you can control your energy and focus on the game plan. We’ll see how we do. “
RELATED: Steph’s minutes to increase in Game 3, no matter his role:
Through the first two games – both at home – the Warriors have been able to respond. Will that follow them on the road? It can often be the difference between good teams and great ones.
Finishing the Nuggets off in four or even five games would have its advantages for a number of reasons. That won’t be the case if the Warriors don’t take care of Game 3 first, putting Denver in a disadvantage it likely can’t recover from.
Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast: