In one of the most important games of the season, Steph Curry could not buy a three point shot.
With Nikola Jokic out, the Golden State Warriors had the perfect opportunity to solidify their playoff position in the Western Conference. Although they have struggled mightily on the road, facing Denver without the reigning MVP is a much easier task to accomplish.
Through the first half, the Warriors had control and were cruising. Even though Curry was cold from downtown, Klay Thompson and Donte DiVincenzo led a Golden State offense that was attacking the basket and running well in transition.
Unfortunately, that style of offense did not translate into the second half. The Nuggets interior defense improved greatly, with Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon imposing more of their will on the inside. Additionally, rookie forward Peyton Watson did an incredible job defending. Watson had multiple chasedown blocks on Curry and kept the Warriors stars quiet when it mattered.
In the end, the Warriors had the ball with 10 seconds left, and had a chance to tie or win the game. A Klay Thompson three was missed, and his second attempt was blocked for a Denver win.
The road loss dropped Golden State to 9-30 on the road this season. After being one of the best road teams in the NBA a year ago during their championship run, the Dubs cannot seem to buy a win on the road win it counts. With Jokic out, the Warriors allowed a combined 55 points from Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, a defensive effort that is unacceptable from a championship contender.
The loss also had massive playoff implications, placing Golden State in must win territory for the final 3 games of the season, two of which are on the road. The Warriors have 38 losses, the same as the Clippers, Lakers and Pelicans. All three of those teams own tiebreakers over the Warriors, who need to win out and get some help in order to avoid the Western Conference play-in games.
The Warriors have played stretches were they look like the best team in basketball. But, in order to win playoff series, you have to win on the road. If the two best shooters in basketball combine for 41 points on 46 shots against the best team in the West, you would have to be kidding yourself to believe they can make another Finals run.
If Golden State wants to make one more run, because time is running out on this core, they have 3 games left to regain their 3 and D identity. If they don't, changes could be made by Bob Myers and company this off-season that produce a very different Golden State Warriors team.