The Golden State Warriors have been dominating the league, but they’ve recently had a few slip-ups that have left them vulnerable. This past week saw Kevin Durant come into town with his new team–the Oklahoma City Thunder–to face off against Stephen Curry and the surging Warriors this Friday night. Who will win?
The “stephen curry mvp” is an interesting matchup to watch as the MVP frontrunners Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry collide. The Warriors are undefeated against the Thunder this season, so it will be interesting to see if the Thunder can win.
On Nov. 16, the Golden State Warriors will face the Brooklyn Nets in a contest between two of the NBA’s hottest teams. The Warriors lost their first game of a four-game Eastern road trip on Nov. 14 at Charlotte, interrupting a seven-game winning run that was among the finest in NBA history. After a 5–1 road trip, Brooklyn returns to Barclays Center.
Golden State is still the greatest team in the NBA, with a record of 11–2. The Nets are 10–4 and trail the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Wizards by a half-game (yes, it felt as strange to write it as it is to read it). After a 2–3 start, Brooklyn has won eight of its past nine games. Despite the fact that it is just mid-November, this is a clash with high expectations and a playoff vibe for a variety of reasons. During TNT’s national broadcast, here are three matches to keep an eye on.
3. James Harden against. the substantially superior Golden State Warriors defense
The Golden State Warriors have the greatest record in the NBA for a reason. They’ve been outstanding on both sides of the floor, ranking second in the NBA in offensive efficiency and first in the league in defensive efficiency entering the game.
The statistical coincidence is uncannily similar to Golden State’s championship season in 2014–15. The Dubs finished second in offensive and first in defense that season. Their current winning run was triggered by this lethal combo. Golden State not only won seven consecutive games, but they also won each one by double digits. It’s the NBA’s longest such stretch since the Philadelphia 76ers won eight straight double-digit games from March 19 to April 3, 2018.
James Harden is now on the scene. When Harden was with the Houston Rockets, the Warriors disappointed him by failing to dethrone Golden State as Western Conference champions. Harden is averaging 19.5 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting to start the 2021–22 season. After a disastrous start, he has improved to 39.3 percent from long range.
The Warriors excel at two things that Brooklyn lacks. The defensive backboard belongs to Golden State. The Warriors not only keep opponents to 42.6 percent shooting, but they also finish possessions with rebounds. They also have the most steals in the NBA, at 10.6 per game.
With Kyrie Irving out, Harden is the Nets’ main playmaker, and he’s prone to mistakes. In 2016–17, Harden established an NBA record with 464 turnovers, and he averaged 4.9 turnovers per game. It might be a long night in Brooklyn if Golden State’s pilfering hands can upset Harden.
2. The Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup will be different.
Sharpshooter Joe Harris is out against the Golden State Warriors, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, after spraining his left ankle early in the victory against Oklahoma City on Nov. 14. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be a major issue, as the Brooklyn Nets could turn to backup point guard Patty Mills, who went 9-of-12 from outside the arc against the Thunder and is shooting 48.1 percent from beyond this season.
Coach Steve Nash, on the other hand, will have to change his rotation as a result of this. If Mills gets the ball first, Harden moves to the second position. That means more Jevon Carter, who averaged 22.6 minutes per game in his first three games and has only surpassed 20 minutes once since. Carter hasn’t been able to toss a pebble into the water without it rebounding back to him, shooting just 26.5 percent overall and 30.3 percent from 3-point range. That won’t cut it in a game when points are at a premium.
Bruce Brown might get more action at No. 2 as well. He’s started the past 11 games at small forward for Brooklyn, who are 9–2. That followed a four-minute appearance in the opener and a DNP-Decision Coach’s the next game.
Harris leads the Nets with 11.3 points per game, but his continual mobility and danger coming off screens generates a lot of floor space for Kevin Durant and the rest of the offense. It will be difficult to replace it.
1. Former MVPs vs. Current MVPs
When Stephen Curry (30) and the Golden State Warriors visit Kevin Durant (7) and the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA’s top two scorers will meet. | Getty Images/Jim McIsaac
Durant and Stephen Curry aren’t a clear matchup on paper. However, they are the NBA’s top scorers — Durant leads with 29.6 points per game, followed by Curry’s 28.1 — and the East and West’s Players of the Week, respectively.
Of course, it’s worth noting (we joke) that Curry and Durant have a past together. They were colleagues in the Bay Area for three seasons and two titles until KD chose to depart the Golden State Warriors and join as a free agency with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2019.
When Durant departed the Warriors to join up with Kyrie, he effectively swapped Curry for Irving. Now he has to face Curry without Irving, and the Warriors are playing better than they have since KD left for the east coast.
Curry, who is 32 years old, dominated the NBA in scoring last season and is closing in on Ray Allen’s career record for 3-pointers made. Curry is also not shooting well by his standards, hitting 44.2 percent overall and 38.7 percent from outside the arc. Consider how much better the Warriors will be if he regains his 50/40/90 form.
In the grand scheme of things, one game early in the regular season doesn’t signify much. The game at Barclays Center, though, acts as an early feel-out for the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors, similar to the opening round of a heavyweight bout that may not be determined until the NBA Finals in June.
Basketball Reference and Stathead provided the statistics.
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