Warriors cognizant of Game 2 NBA playoff importance vs. Nuggets

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Warriors turn focus to greater task at hand vs. Nuggets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Chase Center played the part of a newborn baby Saturday night, erupting with each spark of joy in the Warriors' 123-107 blowout win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of Golden State's first-round Western Conference playoff series. The Warriors' home still is a relatively new one, finding its personality opposed to Oracle Arena. In its playoff debut, though, it carried a pretty significant record over from the Warriors' past property.

The Warriors now have won 12 straight Game 1s played at home, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, which is the longest active streak in the NBA. Only the Chicago Bulls (19) from 1992 to 2011 and the San Antonio Spurs (13) from 2012 to 2017 have had longer streaks over the last 30 years.

It first really became clear the playoffs were back in San Francisco for the first time since 1964 when Jordan Poole went off in the second quarter, scoring nine straight points and 14 total.

"It was great," Steph Curry said of the Chase Center crowd. "There were some great moments. Like I've said, it's still a young building and environment, and it's trying to find its identity. It was loud at times. We went on some runs. There was a moment at the end of the third.

"We got it up to an 18, 20-point lead. [Gary Payton II] got fouled on a transition. It's almost because the lead was so big, you lose the anxiousness of the moment. That's where you remind yourself this is a playoff game. Every possession is important. I started pointing at the scoreboard trying to get everybody hyped.

"You got to build on your momentum every game to create that home-court advantage. It's been great, so it's only going to get better as the stakes get higher and higher."

To Klay Thompson, returning to the playoffs in front of the home crowd was a surreal moment. The last time he appeared in a postseason game, he tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Right before the opening tip, he thought back to all the days in the gym, all the days in the doctor's office and on the surgery table.

Back on the big stage, he took it all in.

"I give Dub Nation amazing credit," Thompson said. "They were so loud as we ran through the tunnel. Just something I won't take for granted, just being able to play playoff basketball."

From fans to teammates, Curry, Klay and Co. are trying to preach a message of consistency. One game is fine and all. It doesn't win a series, though.

The Warriors were all smiles after a 16-point win. As they should be. They earned that. Again, one game doesn't make a series.

For as badly as the Warriors wanted to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders, they recognize the vast importance of Game 2 at home before hitting the road for Game 3 and Game 4 in Denver.

"In my experience in the NBA, Game 2 after a comfortable win in Game 1 is always, always a tough endeavor," Steve Kerr said. "We know what's coming. Denver has had a lot of success in the playoffs the last few years. A lot of experience, well-coached.

"It's just a good start for us, but we got to be on our toes, on edge for Monday."

The Nuggets made the playoffs for the fourth straight season this year. Michael Malone is one of the best coaches in the NBA. Denver won 48 games this season, all without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. appeared in only nine of those. Nikola Jokic's historic season has him in line to win his second straight NBA MVP.

Draymond Green pestered him all game long and Jokic was a minus-19 in 35 minutes. The Warriors' defensive wizard was a plus-21. Jokic also still scored 25 points -- on 25 shots -- to go with 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Not a bad off-day.

"We know he's coming back for Game 2 and it's going to be a lot harder," Kerr said.

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A win of this magnitude could be exactly what the Warriors needed after navigating a rocky season. They were red-hot to start it off, battled injuries and constantly struggled to find that championship continuity. Much of that was out of their hands.

Saturday night gave the Warriors a glimpse of what they can be when whole, and that was with Curry coming off the bench. Imagine when he's back at full strength, whatever that is this late into the season after returning from injury.

Poole shined brightest with 30 points in his playoff debut, Thompson scored 19 in his return and Curry was back in the lineup. Green again looked like the best defender on the planet -- as Klay calls him -- and Andrew Wiggins quietly was a plus-16 while scoring 16 points to go with a team-high nine rebounds.

The Warriors were riding high after Game 1, and rightfully so. Now it's time to lock in on the greater task at hand.

"For the guys that have been there and understand what the journey is like, and at this stage of the season and playoff chase, yeah, you start to kind of think about what's next. That's because we've been there and we know there's no guessing.

"But it's also a reminder that this group hasn't done it yet. And so no conversations in the locker room or in our practices, our preparation is about anything other than how do you win Game 1, how do you win Game 2 coming up Monday, and then take it from there. That's the only way we're going to get to where we want to go."

One down, three to go in Round 1. Remember, the next is most important, and comes far before one can start thinking of anything else. That's the playoffs, they come one game at a time.

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