Nuggets at Warriors preview: High scoring teams no more?

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

The Warriors and Nuggets meet up in Oakland tonight with both teams sitting at 3-3 ... and surprisingly not scoring very much.

Loading Scores

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 7
vs
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3-3

3-3
November 10th, 2012, 8:30 PM (MT)
Oracle Arena - Oakland, California
TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Stephen Curry PG Ty Lawson
Klay Thompson
SG Andre Iguodala
Harrison Barnes
SF Danilo Gallinari
David Lee
PF Kenneth Faried
Festus Ezeli C Kosta Koufos
Notes
Golden State of Mind Blogs You're here!
Andrew Bogut (out), Brandon Rush (out) Injuries Wilson Chandler (day-to-day), Julyan Stone (out)
Warriors are averaging just 95.0 ppg. Stat Nuggets are averaging just 97.7 ppg.

There was a time when a Nuggets / Warriors game was guaranteed to be a high-scoring affair. And yet six games into the new NBA season, both the Nuggets and Warriors are almost under-scoring. The would be / should be high-flying Nuggets are putting up an unacceptably low 97.7 points per game while the Warriors are seeing their scoring per game dip to 95.0.

There are a lot of reasons for this, both obvious and not so obvious.

Regarding the Warriors impotent offense, that's to be somewhat expected in the wake of the Monta Ellis-for-Andrew Bogut trade that saw 20-plus points per game walk out the door. But what I don't understand is why scorers Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee aren't filling the void ... and making their fantasy basketball owners happier. The short answer is that they can't shoot straight. Curry is making just 36.8% of his shot attempts, Thompson's not much better at 38.4% and Lee - inexcusable for a big man - is connecting on just 43.4% of his field goal tries. To put that in perspective, the lowest Lee has ever shot from the field is 50.3%.

But being just six games in, one has to assume that the Warriors field goal accuracy will improve. Hopefully not starting tonight.

Meanwhile, our Nuggets - in spite of handily winning three straight games - are experiencing a scoring drought themselves. I attribute much of this to their assists being down (and yes, I get it - if you're not making shots assists will be down). But having seen two games in person, the Nuggets don't seem to be passing enough. Maybe it's just a gut feel, but it seems like the Nuggets are having too many one-and-done possessions with lots of one-on-one basketball. This is certainly not how head coach George Karl wants the game to be played.

Beyond the shoddy assists figures, the Nuggets scoring ineptitude can be attributed a bit to Danilo Gallinari's cold shooting. In five games played, Gallo has had games with 5-14, 3-17, 3-11, 6-15 and, last night, 2-11 shooting. And while it's tempting to blame his bad ankle for his shooting woes, an ankle injury doesn't square with Gallo's much improved rebounding (6.8 rpg through five games, his career best by far) and solid defense (Marvin Williams made just 2 of his 7 attempts being guarded by Gallo on Friday night). Is Gallo just one good game away from righting his offensive issues?

Like last night's Jazz team and a now-fearsome Timberwolves team, the Warriors are part of the Western Conference's "middle-tier" teams that should never be an easy out, and yet sometimes they make themselves so. Inspired by the firing of Mike Brown (and having Denver Stiffs Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement winner Bernie Bickerstaff at the coaching helm last night ... egads!) the Lakers pummeled the Warriors 101-77. It was as if the Warriors never showed up in the first place.

Entering tonight's game, look for an embarrassed Warriors team to put forth a big effort in front of their home fans and a now confident Nuggets team to extend their winning streak to four. And if these two teams can find their scoring moxy, it should be an exciting game.

Three things to look for in tonight's game ...

1) Can the Nuggets take advantage of the Warriors lack of size? - If Kenneth Faried and Kosta Foufos can suck down 20 combined rebounds and the Nuggets can colletively block 12 shots against a big Jazz team, what does that mean when they face an undersized Warriors squad tonight? Warriors center Andrew Bogut will probably not play (shocking, I know), so look for big outings from Faried, Koufos and possibly JaVale McGee.

2) If Wilson Chandler plays, is Jordan Hamilton buried even further on the bench? - J-Ham was given the opportunity to start when Gallo was hurt on opening night ... and now he's lucky to get a few minutes of garbage time. What happened? Seeing Hamilton up close last night, it doesn't seem like he got "ripped" like Coach Karl asked him to in the off-season. Could it be conditioning or is there something else going on?

3) Ty Lawson vs. Stephen Curry - Two of the fastest point guards in the NBA go head-to-head tonight. Curry is one of my favorite players to watch because he reminds me the most of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (but without the personal drama, of course). Look for the two undersized point guards to go at it right from the opening tip off.

Scouting the Warriors ...

Warriors Non-Stiffs

-Stephen Curry: Curry's field goal shooting may be down, but he still fills up the box score with assists, steals ... and even rebounds. And don't put Curry on the free throw line because he'll never miss!

-Klay Thompson: The son of NBA veteran Mychal Thompson has seen his solid summer and pre-season play carry over into the regular season. Even though he can't shoot consistently, Thompson is having a good sophomore season.

Warriors Stiffs

-Andrew Bogut: The talented Bogut still can't stay healthy, and yet he'll be paid $13.2 and $14.2 million over the next two seasons, respectively.

-Richard Jefferson: Speaking of wasting money, how would you like to pay Jefferson $10.2 and $11 million over the next two years? Jefferson connected on just 1 of his 6 field goal attempts last night and is averaging 4.3 ppg on 30.8% shooting this season to date.

Parting Shot ...

Reiterating what I wrote above, watching Lawson go at it with Curry should make this game worth following closely, even if it means you'll be up late on a Saturday night doing so!

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets - click here.

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