Jordan Poole's playoff explosion giving Warriors 'great problem' to ponder

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JP's playoff explosion gives Warriors 'great problem' to ponder originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Jordan Poole was built to shine on the NBA playoff stage, and he has done just that for the Warriors as they have roared out to a two-games-to-none series lead over the Denver Nuggets in Round 1.

The third-year guard blistered Denver for 30 in Game 1 and came back Monday with a 29-piece in Game 2. Poole's explosion has come with Steph Curry coming off the bench as he works his way back from a sprained ligament and bone bruise in his left foot. Curry looked like his old self in Game 2, dropping 34 points in 22 minutes.

Curry will return to the starting lineup perhaps as early as Thursday's Game 3. While Poole has thrived in all three roles he has played this season, including Sixth Man, his meteoric rise has put a good problem on the Warriors' radar.

“Ultimately, we have to have Steph Curry in the [starting] lineup," Draymond Green said Monday after the win. "So, you know, that's one thing. We're not trying to keep Steph in the Sixth Man role. Forget that.

"Now, in saying that, ultimately Jordan is probably going to have to start, too. So that’s where, you know, we got to figure a bunch of stuff out. Good problem to have. Great problem to have. But it's going to have to get figured out at some point. And maybe down -- the thing about the playoffs is every series takes on a life of its own. Every series requires different matchups, requires different adjustments.

"But at some point, I’m sure they are both going to be starting together. You know, but I won’t -- I won’t be the one to cause myself that headache. Steve can figure that one out.”

Poole has been borderline unconscious for the last month and has shown no signs of letting up.

In two games against the Nuggets, Poole has scored 59 points on just 29 shots. His scalding hot stretch coupled with the Warriors' new lethal lineup -- Curry, Poole, Klay Thompson, Draymond, Green, and Andrew Wiggins -- has taken Golden State from postseason question mark to title threat to be feared.

“You have three players that can get it on their own,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Monday. “They do such a great job of passing, cutting, moving, and making plays for each other. I learned back in the day -- CYO basketball, St. Agnes -- the most dangerous guy on the floor is the guy that just passed the ball. Steph Curry is the embodiment of that. He’s been doing that for years. He gives the ball up, you relax and he’s flying off another screen and he makes you pay.

"Jordan Poole, his understudy, has paid attention, has done his homework, and is playing the same way. Those three on the floor with a Wiggins and a Draymond Green is very, very, very effective.”

RELATED: Warriors' lethal lineup has embarrassed, broken Nuggets

Poole said Monday that he took it upon himself to watch clips of Curry to help expand his own game. After dropping 29 on the Nuggets on Monday, Poole's coach and teammates likened him to No. 30.

"Some of those flurries out there from him tonight reminded me of his teammate who came off the bench a little bit," Kerr said. "It's pretty remarkable to see the similarities now with both the on- and off-ball stuff. Jordan has had a pretty good apprenticeship with learning from Steph. But he was fantastic tonight.

Added Green: "Jordan is doing some of the same stuff Steph does, and that's tough. You're going to game plan for Steph, you're going to game plan for [Klay Thompson]. But now, you've got to game plan for Jordan. That's a different beast. You know, you're trapping Steph. Okay, well, if you're trapping Steph and you got Jordan on the floor too, it's hard to trap two guys.

"You swing the ball to a second side, and a big is going to get back -- it's tough. He has been watching Steph a lot, and he's doing his best impression, and it is incredible."

Poole, Curry, and Thompson give the Warriors three long-distance snipers who can launch from 30 feet or blow by defenders that crowd them. Three lethal weapons that make it impossible to double or trap without extreme risk.

The Warriors know Poole is one of the most vital pieces to their title hopes. He'll likely log 30-35 minutes in each postseason game and will be on the floor in the big moments alongside Curry, Thompson, and Green.

Poole's meteoric ascent from protege to budding superstar has given Kerr an embarrassment of offensive riches to deploy. But when or if Poole makes the leap to permanent starter is something the Warriors will worry about when they have to.

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