Stephen Curry made the decision to come off the bench in the Warriors‘ playoff opener Saturday night, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Returning from a left foot sprain and bone bruise that had sidelined him since March 16, Curry scored 16 points in 22 minutes as Golden State posted a convincing win over Denver.
Curry patterned his return on what the team did with Klay Thompson when he came back in January as he got 45 minutes of real-time rest in each game. No decision has been made on whether Curry will continue in a reserve role moving forward, but Thompson knows that his presence can make a huge difference in the series.
“I thought he looked great,” Thompson said. “His shot was short in the first half, but that’s to be expected when you come off a long layoff. But he’s still Steph Curry. … Just his gravity and the threat of him being out there is the best. It makes us a championship team.”
There’s more on the Warriors:
- The Nuggets went 3-1 against Golden State during the regular season, but Draymond Green didn’t play in any of those games, Andrews adds. He logged 29 minutes Saturday with 12 points, six rebounds and nine assists and helped to control Nikola Jokic on defense. “You need tough and smart, and that’s Draymond,” coach Steve Kerr said.
- Starting in Curry’s place, Jordan Poole surpassed Wilt Chamberlain to become the youngest Warriors player to reach 30 points in his playoff debut, writes Madeline Kenney of The San Jose Mercury News. Poole, who made five of his first seven three-point attempts, was part of a new “death lineup” that broke the game open late in the first half. “Jordan Poole, wow, what a playoff debut,” Thompson said. “All his hard work is paying off. If he doesn’t get Most Improved this year, it just doesn’t make sense.”
- Outside of Poole, the Warriors’ young players didn’t get a lot of minutes Saturday, but the team has confidence in them in case they’re needed, per Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Golden State has been developing them all year long in hopes of getting them ready for the postseason. “They gotta feel it,” Andre Iguodala said. “It’s really hard to explain to them how the intensity kind of turns up in the playoffs.”