Last night against the Warriors, the Denver Nuggets shot 45 percent from the floor, 41 percent from three-point range, dished 30 assists, and finished the game with 111 points. They also got their nuts kicked off.
The Warriors, who came into the game a half-game back of the Nuggets for the top spot in the West, won 142-111 to reclaim the top seed. They scored 51 points in the first quarter, the most ever scored by a team in the first quarter in the shot-clock era, and didn’t really slow down after that. By the end of the game their shooting percentages—60 percent from the floor and 21-of-39 from three—represented a hazard to all curious basketball fans looking for an update on the night’s results. Come across those numbers while lazily scrolling through box scores on your phone and your eyes will be sent spinning before you even have time to notice the 38 assists.
The experience of watching the game itself was no less delirium-inducing. There are many things that this Warriors dynasty does better than any other collection of basketball players on Earth, and one of those things is knowing exactly how to pour it on as rudely as possible:
The point here isn’t even that the Warriors kicked the Nuggets’ asses, it’s that Denver was never, at any point during the game, anywhere close to not getting their asses kicked. That’s no small thing; even the most comprehensive wins carried out by good teams tend to feature at least one stretch in which the opponent goes on a nice run and temporarily closes the gap a bit. But the Warriors were just relentless, and it didn’t matter one bit how well the Nuggets played in response. It was a bewildering thing to see: here was one of the best teams in the West putting together a 38-point first quarter, scoring 83 through three quarters, and also getting run off the floor and out of the arena and over a cliff and down into the bottom of the ocean.
At this point it’s not all that controversial to say that the Warriors have reached a state of greatness, and perhaps even boredom with that greatness, that allows them to mosey their way through the regular season before revealing their true powers in the playoffs. All we can hope for during the regular season, then, is that a few teams manage to draw the Warriors out from their cozy den and ask for a real game. Sometimes that leads to a dramatic overtime game in which James Harden manages to slay and skin the beast all by himself, and sometimes it leads to the Nuggets getting mauled to death while learning that their version of a very good effort offers no real protection. Both are fun to see, if only to be reminded of who the Warriors really are.