After all the preseason hype, all the talk of high expectations, many presumed the Warriors to come out and struggled. Especially after the Lakers thumped the much-ballyhooed Clippers on opening night, a let down wouldn’t have been surprising.
But that didn’t come close to happening Wednesday night.
The Warriors, instead, made an emphatic statement, beating the Lakers125-94 at Oracle on Wednesday. Was the statement that Golden State is for real? Or was it that the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers are really bad?
Perhaps it’s too early to answer that definitively. But it certainly looked different.
These Warriors smelled blood and pounced. They went for the jugular of a vulnerable team — playing without Steve Nash on the second night of a back-to-back — like you’d expect from a legit contender.
Maybe it was the energy of the season opener. Or maybe they fed off the passion in the arena whenever the Lakers come to town. Or maybe this is just who they are.
“We understand we’re going to have to have a lot of energy at home,” Andre Iguodala said. “I’ve been in a situation where I’ve won a lot of home games. (Last year with Denver, we) had the best home record in the NBA. Still, you’ve got to take care of business on the road. Energy gets you wins at home, but its how you go on the road, compete against the top-tier teams.”
The Warriors will have a chance to do that tonight against the host Los Angeles Clippers.
Before then, here’s the season debut of the game rewind …
By Marcus Thompson II
OAKLAND — It might’ve taken all the defibrillators in the Bay Area to revive the nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena whose hearts stopped Thursday.
Golden State nearly squandered an 18-point lead, and another star-like performance from point guard Stephen Curry — who changed the tide of the game with another big third quarter before his home crowd. But in the end, after a compilation of turnovers, guard Jarrett Jack made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets, clinching the riveting first-round upset, 4-2.
The sixth-seeded Warriors advance to the second round against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 is Monday in Texas.
“When we were down in the first half,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I pulled him aside and said, ‘There’s going to be a point in this game where you’re going to take over because you’re the best player on the floor. And what will happen is everybody else will follow you. And sure enough …”
In 2007 playoffs, the underdog Warriors started the first round of the playoffs in a place that was nearly impossible to get a win: American Airlines Center. Dallas was 36-5 at home during the regular season, but the Warriors managed a split. So when they came home, it made for a surreal setting. The crowd was in third-quarter form two hours before tip-off. And when the Warriors went on a run, the place got so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think.
Fast forward six years. The underdog Warriors started the first round in a place that was nearly impossible to get a win: the Pepsi Center. Despite the fact that Denver (38-3 at home during the regular season) had won 24 straight at home, the Warriors pulled off a split. Now, they come home to what is expected to be an electric Oracle Arena.
The banners are already up on each side, with more inside. The Warriors are preparing for what figures to be one of the most electric atmospheres in the NBA. A few details:
Golden State announced starting center Andrew Bogut will not return after he sprained his left ankle. Yes, the same ankle that casued him to miss 38 games between November and January.
He is not receiving X-rays, but according to a team official he apparently sprained the ankle in the last game. After trying to play on it the first 9 minutes, 5 seconds, he was shut down for the night.