Stephen Curry returns, and the Golden State beats the Nuggets

Klay Thompson was splitting the 3-point mark. Draymond Green was making stops and looking for open cutters with great skill. Steph Curry caught several guards when he pulled the ball.

Dreams who rejoined basketball on their way to winning the Championship Series with the Golden State Warriors, reunited for the first time on Saturday after the 2019 playoffs. And as in many games of that era, the High Octinians were dominant, defeating Denver Nuggets in the opener of their first round playoff matchup, 123-107.

In a surprising move, Kerry started the game on the bench. In his place, coach Steve Kerr started third-year guard Jordan Poole, who is having a career year. The move appeared to aim to put Curry at the limit for tough minutes. This was his first game since March 16, when he injured his left foot against the Boston Celtics.

Swap has changed. Paul was exceptional in his first career play-off game, 30 points – a game high – on 9 of 13 shooting, electrifying the crowd at Chase Center in San Francisco.

The last time Kerry came off the bench during the playoffs was May 1, 2018, in the second game of the Western Conference Semi-final against the New Orleans Pelicans when he was coming off a knee injury. Saturday was just the third playoff game of Denver’s career against which he played but didn’t start.

He entered the contest about halfway through the first quarter in a loud voice. Almost immediately, Carey made his presence felt, finding Thompson for an open 3-point from the corner and pushing a pass between the two defenders to open the gap for Green. Otherwise, he struggled, shooting 5-for-13 from the field for 16 points.

Thompson, meanwhile, looked like the player he was before letting the former Crosstown ligament into his left knee during the 2019 NBA Finals. He went swiftly to find an opening for himself, five 3-pointers along the way and 19 points in total.

Golden State was able to flummox Denver’s Nikola Djokic, the favorite to win the Most Valuable Player Award, which would be his second. The Warriors continually forced Jokic into a difficult shot and frustrated him with the constant flow of double teams. They also tried to put him on the defensive with him as the primary defender on the ball handler.

By the time the fourth quarter came around, Jokic looked tired. He finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.

The playoff opener was a return to the spotlight of the post season for the Golden State core players who won the championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Curry, Greene, Thompson and Andrea Iguodala are the top four leaders in franchise history for post-season games. But it was the first time, in large part due to injuries, that the Warriors had made it to the playoffs since 2019, when the team lost in the finals to the Toronto Raptors in ten games. Only once did they play all four games in the same game this year on January 9, after Thompson’s first game returned two seasons after missing with a leg injury. Green started the game just briefly, to support Thompson, before appearing the rest of the night.

Both teams had major injury issues throughout the season. Greene lost to Golden State with a back injury more than two months after the regular season. For Denver, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray missed the most or the entire season.

It was Denver’s fourth straight year in the playoffs; The team has outscored them in each of the first three seasons of the past three seasons.

The Nuggets will try to equalize the seven game series in one game on Monday.

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