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Nuggets vs Warriors preview: Danilo Gallinari, Denver close out season in Golden State

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We made it through 81 games, just one chance left for the Nuggets to get things back on the right track.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

They say only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. Well, tax day is upon us and so is the death of the 2014-15 season for the Nuggets. My favorite inside joke of the season was seeing how many of our writers, myself included, would type phrases like: getting back on the right track, righting the ship, headed in the right direction, and more. This was a season where nothing went particularly right for the Nuggets. Certainly things didn't go according to plan for fired head coach Brian Shaw, and a long off-season looms for the fans in the Mile High City.

It's only fitting that the Nuggets are in Oakland to close out the season versus the Warriors.

Game 82: 2014-15 NBA Season

@

Dubs

30-51 (11-29 on road)
Series 1-1
66-15 (38-2 at home)
Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Oracle Arena - Oakland, CA
8:30 PM MT
Altitude / 104.3 FM

Ty Lawson PG Steph Curry
Randy Foye
SG Klay Thompson
Danilo Gallinari
SF Harrison Barnes
Wilson Chandler PF Draymond Green
Kenneth Faried C Andrew Bogut
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs Golden State of Mind

Darrell Arthur (calf) and Jameer Nelson (right hip flexor) and both out.

Injuries

None

The Nuggets are 90-70 all time vs the Warriors.
Etc... The Warriors are 61-19 vs the Nuggets in Oakland, all time.

We likely won't be seeing the real Warriors in this contest, again. With an 11 game lead in the Western Conference, Steve Kerr has the luxury of resting his players in advance of the post-season. This was a dream season for Golden State. Steph Curry should be named the league's MVP (I subscribe to the Bill Simmons view of: Who will you most remember from the 2014-15 season and to me it's Curry), Kerr might be the Coach of the Year, and Draymond Green is in the hunt for Defensive Player of the Year.

It's mind bottling (shout out to Joey Tribbiani) to think about how the Nuggets and Warriors shot in two completely different directions after their 2013 playoff meeting. It was supposed to be the Nuggets who were the team on the rise, but it turned out that the Warriors would be the ones on a meteoric path upward. We all know what happened with both franchises, and it's frustrating to think about.

The next big test for Golden State comes in the playoffs. How will they respond when the going gets tough? Will Golden State run through the West or will they face the same headaches that teams like Michael Jordan's Bulls faced against the Pistons? Will there be a roadblock before they chase down the ultimate prize or can they race to the Finals? It's setting up to be one heck of a post-season and it's the first time in a long time where it's anyone's guess as to who will win the title this season.

The Warriors boast a young starting lineup that is anchored by the feisty Andrew Bogut with shooters surrounding him. And the Warriors bench is also a strong suit. Being able to bring Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights, and David Lee into the game is the rich getting richer. Kerr will be able to play big and small, and should have enough combinations to defend against most cold streaks. Having a team that is nine deep is a blessing in today's NBA, it's almost unheard of. The Warriors are a throwback to the stacked teams of the 1980's that my colleagues Andrew Feinstein, Jeff Morton, and Mike Olson were old enough to really remember (ageism, FTW!).

As for the Nuggets, well ... they will head into the off-season searching for a coach and questions will fly about how the team will go about dealing with their current roster. It could be a while before the Nuggets are back on the rise and in the playoff hunt out West.

Warriors Stiffs:

You really have to dig deep to find their Stiffs. In fact, I can't put a single guy in their nine man rotation into the mix. But let's try:

Iggy: Making $12+ million this season, Iggy's 7.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals are all career lows. And his 59.6% free throw shooting could be an issue in the playoffs. Guys will shy away from certain shots if they don't feel comfortable at the foul line, and Iggy could be one of those guys. As a glue guy though, he has been wonderful.

Warriors Non-Stiffs:

Steph Curry is having an MVP type season, but he hasn't blown the doors off the Nuggets this year. He's averaging just 20 points per game against Denver - a few less than his 23.9 point season average. And he's only shooting 40% from deep against Denver (he has shot 48.7% from deep this season against Dallas and is shooting 44.8% from deep on the season).

Speights has been a monster for the Dubs this season, too. He's averaging 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in just over 15 minutes per game. It's guys like Speights who will have a 15 point game in the playoffs out of nowhere to win an unexpected game for his team. He has turned his career around in Cali and it has been nice to see.

Klay: He averages 22 points vs Denver this season and is shooting 50% from deep against them with eight attempts per game. Woweezowee! For my money, you could give Klay the Most Improved Player award and I'd be fine with it. Back in the 2013 playoffs I laughed when former Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Curry and Klay were the best shooting backcourt in NBA history, but now I think he might be right.

***

A huge thanks to everyone who reads the blog and to all of our staff. We made it to the last game of the season, let's see what happens tonight in Oakland.