If ever there could be an emotional letdown for the Golden State Warriors, this would be make abject sense. Down 4 rotation players and the last leg of a road trip before heading home right before the All-Star Break, all the stars aligned. The Denver Nugget, on the same token, could only dress 9 guys and had an even smaller rotation but nonetheless, the Warriors would not be denied this beatdown.

Buried under an avalanche of threes from a barrage of no-namers and washed-up veterans, this was about as ugly as it can get. The worry probably comes if you enjoy extrapolating the small details and find the differences in seasons black and white. These Warriors can only win as many regular season games as they had all of last season now. They turned over half their roster but added the singular most consistent scorer in the world in Kevin Durant. Chances are they’ll appear worse off than last year’s edition in the aggregate. But who really believes that?

So for a moment, even though the pain of the Finals collapse still burns itself into the brains of Warriors fans, we can appreciate just how consistently great Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors were all of last season. Night in and night out, the effort given after a championship win set a precedence that no one will or should follow moving forward. It was that historical. After a ring, the Warriors felt disrespected enough to try like the Denver Nuggets did tonight, and for 82 entire game.

There would be teams like said Nuggets, draining any and all 3s, playing up and at its highest against Steve Kerr’s squad just to salvage a victory in its lost season. Entire franchises would awaken from a slumber of its lottery season to show out because Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson came to town. The story remains the same, if only for a few alterations. Other coaches are now “resting” their players, sitting out the majority of their best players if only to save themselves the mileage that would come in a hopeless effort. That comes from the practical mindset. The players are still playing. And guys like Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Jauncho Hernangomez and budding superstar Nikola Jokic still have pride.

The give-and-take through an 82-game journey ebbs and flows with a variance that can provide a moment of comic relief. After a draining night against OKC’s embarrassing assortment of fans in KD’s return, a team needs its fair share of Kevon Looney 3s and Briante Weber swipes. In a year that even the least spoiled fans have complained about the boredom of Warrior overwhelming greatness, it’s a fun chance to see the players that will need to contribute in the future get a chance to unstretch their limbs. This is obviously much more acceptable under the guise of a 20-point blowout, akin to the levels of 2014-2016, but that mostly displays the visceral excellence of those squads.

So the Nuggets dropped 24 3s, tied the NBA record for triples in the game, and absolutely annihilated a team not ready. Now the Warriors go home for one more game before a little break (though 4 of their guys are All-Stars). The trudge is ongoing. And tonight another step on the ladder all the way to June.