After winning eight straight against the Brooklyn Nets, over a three-year period from 2015 to 2018, the Warriors had lost three consecutive over the past two seasons (2019-20, 2020-21).
Two of those three losses included a couple of forgettable outings at the Barclays Center where they lost by a combined margin of 67 points. On Tuesday night, the Warriors exercised those demons with a dominant road win in Brooklyn, their first since beating the Lakers in Los Angeles on opening night.
With this 117-99 victory, the Warriors improved to 12-2, their best- 14-game start since the 2016-17 season. After a relatively soft schedule, which included eight straight home games at the Chase Center, this is a statement performance for Golden State.
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Here's what's different between this win and the 26-point drubbing the Dubs received on last season's opening night in Brooklyn, and how those changes have positively impacted their 2021-22 season so far.
There have been no seismic changes in the roster for Golden State coming into this season. In hindsight, the transactions look like deals made in order to acquire players that were better fitted to play in Steve Kerr's system.
Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins are the only players from last season's opening night to have played more than 20 minutes and also featured in this game. Draymond Green didn't play that game, as he missed the early part of last season's schedule, while role players like Kelly Oubre Jr., Eric Paschall, Kent Bazemore left in the offseason, replaced by Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica.
This season the Warriors have relied on the young relatively inexperienced trio of Jordan Poole, Gary Payton II and rookie Jonathan Kuminga. This tweet by Statmuse was after Golden State's first 12 games but it still holds good, aptly summarising how the roster tweaks have influenced their play so far.
Every single Warriors player with a negative +/- last season is either no longer on the team or currently not playing.- StatMuse (@statmuse) November 13, 2021
-189 - Oubre
-183 - Wiseman
-113 - Paschall
-76 - Mannion
-32 - Smailagic
-25 - Chriss
-10 - Wanamaker
-3 - Bell
The Warriors are 11-1 this season. pic.twitter.com/ecd2lALSwM
For reference, here's how their offseason acquisition or players seeing more minutes are doing so far
|Players||Games played||Minutes average||2021-22 +/- (prior to Nets game)|
|Gary Payton II||13||12.7||+8.1|
|Otto Porter Jr.||12||16.7||+4.2|
It's a small sample size but the large plus-minus numbers in their short minutes speak volumes of the impact of the team's 'new' role players.
The new-look offence
Despite last year's blowout loss, the Warriors had a respectable defence last season as their defensive rating was ranked fifth-best in the league. While they've improved that defence to a league-best rating in 2021-22, it's the team's offence that is sparking their early season dominance and ensuring they lead the league in net rating.
Steph Curry went out because of foul trouble when the Warriors were up 13.- StatMuse (@statmuse) November 17, 2021
They extended that lead to 22 points with him on the bench.
KD and Harden were playing the entire time. pic.twitter.com/clV04Lg1FX
Last season, their offensive rating was ranked in the bottom third of the league at 20th whereas this season, it's ranked third-best in the league. They lead the league in points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game while holding their opponents to 101.6 points, good for third in the league.
The team has especially been lethal in the third quarters this season.
Right on cue, GSW cooks Brooklyn in the 3rd, outscoring them 35-18 in the quarter https://t.co/AFxFIyHWvq- Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) November 17, 2021
And imagine, this team is putting up these numbers while they still have to welcome back five-time All-Star Klay Thompson and promising young center James Wiseman, last year's No. 2 overall pick.
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