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Game 35 Preview & Thread: Nuggets vs. Warriors (7pm MST)

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Nene_warriors_medium The Golden State Warriors aka Dubs are not known for their defense. When the Nuggets faced them back on December 1st, Denver scored a season high 135 points and won the game easily. The Warriors are getting a little healthier, but they still have yet to get to double digit wins on the season.

The particulars ...

Records:
Denver:
21-13 (13-3 at home, 8-10 on the road)
Golden State: 9-23 (6-7 at home, 3-16 on the road)
Injuries:
Denver:
Chauncey Billups (groin) is questionable, Carmelo Anthony (knee) is a game time decision and Chris Andersen (left ankle sprain) is out tonight.
Golden State: Chris Hunter (ankle) is probable. Kelenna Azubuike, Raja Bell (left wrist) and Brandon Wright (shoulder surgery) are all out tonight.

Opposition's Take: Golden State of Mind

The Warriors waived big man Mikki Moore (who earlier in the season I compared to Ichabod Crane) yesterday and IQofaWarrior at Golden State of Mind posted this link about the reason why Moore was released by Marcus Thompson. Very good read for NBA insider minds. Basically Moore was released in favor of keeping young big man Chris Hunter, who has shown some promise. Moore is nursing an ankle injury and wont be ready to play again until March ... so I'd be surprised if the Nuggets showed any interest in him.

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports in his Jazz roster shakeup piece that Denver turned down a trade offer with the New Jersey Nets ... Josh Boone for Joey Graham (Graham's non-guaranteed salary the desired piece) and that Denver is still looking to acquire another big man.

To the game ...

The Nuggets had a lot of success against the Warriors in their first matchup because Denver was aggressive (62 points scored in the paint), shared the ball (30 assists) and ran the Warriors out of the gym (21 fast break points). The Nuggets utilized this same formula against the Utah Jazz last Saturday night (Jan. 2nd) and will need it again tonight at the Pepsi Center.

You could pretty much call me a broken record. I think before every game I'll say pretty much the same stuff ... pass the ball, give a shit on the defensive end by staying with your man and fighting through screens, box out when rebounding, be aggressive on the offensive glass, get out and run when possible and if you are not shooting the ball well...go to the rim. Easy enough right? Well, that game plan is probably always in place, but not always executed.

I'll say it again. Win or lose...I just want to see effort out of this team. The Nuggets haven't really been short on effort in their previous two games, but we have seen lapses in energy levels this season. With Chris Andersen out tonight the Nuggets will need somebody to come off the bench to provide some hustle. Malik Allen showed what he could do against the 76ers and it wasn't pretty.

The veteran Allen played just nine minutes, but turned in a -11 on 1-3 shooting and only grabbed one rebound. Allen has never been known as a rebounder and Denver doesn't need a big man who doesn't have a nose for the ball. At this point in his career Allen looks comfortable hanging out on the perimeter and lofting up jumpers if the ball swings his way. That is not the kind of player this team needs right now.

The player we all want to see earn some minutes while Birdman is out and perhaps even when Bird returns in Renaldo Balkman. I am one of the biggest Balkman supporters around, but I have been less than impressed with the minutes he has played this season. It could be rust on his part from not being in the rotation, but Benjamin Hochman points out once again in his latest mailbag that Balkman fails to earn time on the floor because he doesn't practice his own mantra, "Hustle Harder." According to Hochman, "... the fact is (and Balkman knows it), Balkman does not give 100 percent at practice."

How could Balkman, Mr. Hustle, not give a full effort in practice? This is maddening considering the Nuggets need what he brings. The guy is a ball of energy and just seems to make good things happen when he is on the floor. So, it seems that Balkman is to blame for the lack of playing time. I'm hoping this isn't a situation where Balkman says to himself, 'Hey, even if I do give 100% in practice...coach still wont play me,' because that would not only be a shame, but show a lack of communication between coach and player.

One guy who seems to be getting better and practicing a lot is Ty Lawson. The young point guard has constant Tweets talking about going to the "Lab" aka the gym and it's paying off. Since Billups went out against Portland, in Lawson's last four games he's averaging 34.2 minutes, 18.5 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and just 1.5 turnovers. And his shooting has been outstanding ... 28-51 from the field (54.9%), 3-7 from three-point land (42.8%) and 15-17 from the charity stripe (88.2%). It'll be fun to see what he's able to do tonight against either Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry.

Speaking of the Warriors ... they have been off since January 2nd when they lost to a 8-man Portland team 105-89. In that game the Warriors scored 46% of their points in the first quarter (41) and then mustered only 15, 17 and 16 points in the following quarters. It'd be nice to see Denver hold this usually high scoring bunch to the same offense ineptitude.

The Warriors are getting a bit healthier and have rebounding machine Andris Biedrins back in the lineup along with Ronny Turiaf. C.J. Watson played well for the Warriors off the bench in the two teams' first meeting scoring 14 points, but it was Anthony Morrow who stole the show scoring 27 points to lead the Warriros.

Still haven't heard if Melo will be playing tonight, but we should know more later in the day on his status for tonight's game. Morrow was checked by Melo last time when he went for 27 to Melo's 25 ... the Nuggets can't let him have the open looks that he likes and if you crowd Morrow he will look to get rid of the ball as he's not too comfortable off the dribble. The guy who does like to play off the dribble is Ellis and it'll be Trip (more on this below) aka Arron Afflalo's responsibility to keep the talented combo guard in check.

Let's hope we see the aggressive version of the Nuggets tonight because if we do ... that will get Denver a win.

Views you can use:

  • Nene has scored 20+ points for a caraeer-high three consecutive games heading into tonight.
  • Jason Kosmicki (Koz) of Altitude Radio calls Arron Augustine Afflalo: Trip because of the Triple-A of his full name. I like it and may stick with it...who is with me?
  • The Warriors lost in Portland Jan. 2nd as the Blazers had only 8-active players. The Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks with just 6 players back on November 24th ... in Dallas.

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter: Nate_Timmons
Photo courtesy of AP Photos: David Zalubowski