Nuggets vs. Warriors preview: Searching for satisfaction in a lost season

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Like a refrigerator that's gone on the fritz, the Nuggets will try to play spoiler in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors and snap a six-game road skid.

Game 79: 2013-14 NBA Season

@ Golden State Warriors (1998 - 2006)
34-44 (13-26 away)
Series 1-1
48-29 (26-13 home)
April 10th, 2014
ORACLE Arena - Oakland, CA
8:30 PM MT
TNT / 1510 AM

Aaron Brooks
PG Stephen Curry
Randy Foye
SG Klay Thompson
Quincy Miller
SF Andre Iguodala
Kenneth Faried
PF Draymond Green
Timofey Mozgov
C Andrew Bogut
Notes
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Danilo Gallinari (knee), JaVale McGee (leg fracture), Nate Robinson (ACL sprain), JJ Hickson (ACL), Wilson Chandler (groin) are out, Ty Lawson (ankle) is questionable Injuries David Lee (hamstring), Festus Ezeli (knee), and Nemanja Nedovic (hamstring) are out.

Tuesday night's win gave Denver their 11th straight season with a winning record at home.

Stat

Andre Iguodala is averaging 9.3 points per game this season, down from 13 ppg when he was in Denver last year.

Schadenfreude is an interesting phenomenon. I don't know if it's necessarily mentally healthy to derive pleasure from someone else's misery, but with the Denver Nuggets missing the playoffs for the first time since I was in high school, it's about all I've had these last couple of months of the season.

So despite the Nuggets' woes, I've still been able to get a kick out of seeing some of my other least favorite franchises falter. The Los Angeles Lakers are nearly at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, only one game ahead of Utah. The New York Knicks and their highly paid, largely injury-free team are on the verge of missing the playoffs in a horrible Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics are 32 games below .500.

Nonetheless, the one team that I absolutely wanted to see fail more than any other was definitely the Golden State Warriors. Regrettably, that's not the case. While the Warriors haven't ascended to the top of the conference like several prognosticators thought they might, they are still most likely going to win 50 games and head to the playoffs. And as we all remember, they're not a team that needs home-court advantage to advance.

The Warriors of course employ Andre Iguodala, aka this guy, who gave up on a 57-win team to go play fourth fiddle on a team that's going to win less games than the one he was on last season. The numbers for Iggy (and I will always refer to him as Iggy, since he supposedly hates that nickname) are down a bit from last season, but his shooting percentages have gone up all the way around. He's even managing to knock down 65% of his free throws! His defense remains excellent and is a big reason why Golden State has become one of the better defensive teams in the league this year.

Iggy can afford to be averaging a few less points because of the excellent back-court tandem of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Both players possess sweet shooting strokes and the ability to go off at any time. However, the Warrior with the most success against the Nuggets this season is David Lee, who scored 28 points in each of the prior two meetings. Lee won't play in this game, which should be an advantage for Denver and the vastly improved Kenneth Faried.

The Warrior I have the most beef with isn't even a player. Mark Jackson is easily my least favorite coach in the league, and judging from all the recent speculation on his job status, his own employers might not care for him much either. Even though he's winning a bunch of games and the players support him, his hubris, clashes with his coaching staff (the team has dismissed two assistant coaches this season) and inability to lift the Warriors higher in the standings may come back to haunt him.

That Jackson even has to answer questions about his job security in a season where the Warriors have won more games than they had in the last 20 years speaks volumes about where ownership stands. The Warriors may have to go on an extended playoff run to give him some breathing room. An early exit could lead to him meeting the same fate George Karl suffered last season after the Warriors ousted the Nuggets from the playoffs.

It will be a tough game for Denver, who gave away a win in their last road contest against Houston. The Nuggets did win the last game in Oakland, but that was when they had Nate Robinson going off for 14 points in the fourth quarter. Now they don't have Robinson or Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler, amid a host of other injuries. It's unlikely that Golden State can move up enough to secure home-court advantage. Still, they'll want revenge for that last game and as long as there's a chance at improving their seeding, they will be going for a win.

Before the season began, my goal for the team was to finish above the Warriors in the standings. It's not going to happen this year, but I can get at least a glimmer of schadenfreude with a Nuggets win tonight.

Game Predictions -

- Remember when Jackson accused the Nuggets of playing dirty in last year's playoff series? Of course you do. The statement is dripping with hypocrisy, seeing as how one of the dirtiest players in the league, Andrew Bogut, plays for Jackson. I think Bogut and Timofey Mozgov are going to get a little chippy tonight, and I say Mozgov gets the upper hand by out-scoring and out-rebounding Bogut.

- Randy Foye had himself a spectacular game last night. He's now one three-pointer shy of tying J.R. Smith for second place on the most three-pointers made in one season list for the Denver Nuggets. I think he gets at least two three-pointers tonight to move into second place by himself. How many fans saw that coming at the beginning of the season?

- The Nuggets have held both Curry and Thompson in check for the most part this year, but I can't shake the feeling that one of the two is going to have a big game. I think it's going to be Curry, only because he won't have to work as hard on the defensive end with Lawson not playing. He's going to go for at least 30 points and 10 assists.

- Jackson will get ejected for arguing an obvious foul call against Bogut. Then Iggy is going to miss two crucial free throws at the end of the game, allowing Denver to escape with a narrow road win. So much schadenfreude!

- This is my last preview of the season. Thanks for reading and letting me be a part of the Stiffs experience. I look forward to delivering my final recap tonight, hopefully describing an awesome Nuggets victory!

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