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Preview: Nuggets face Kevin Durant, Warriors at Pepsi Center

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The Denver Nuggets are home at Pepsi Center to take on the Golden State Warriors

Rejoice Nuggets fans, the Nuggets are finally home!

After opening the preseason with four straight road games, the Denver Nuggets are back in Pepsi Center for the first time since April 10th. This is Nuggets’ fans first chance to get an up-close and personal look at the new guys, Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, and Juancho Hernangomez. It’s also a chance for fans to get a glimpse at the improvements by Emmanuel Mudiay, Jusuf Nurkic, and Nikola Jokic.

Head coach Michael Malone said at practice on Thursday that the team is done resting players this preseason which means all healthy guys should be available. He has also mentioned that the last four preseason games, including Friday’s game against the Warriors, will be treated more like a regular season game in terms of rotations and minutes. This means that Friday will be an especially valuable look into what the Nuggets rotation will look like.

Oh, and did I mention that their opponent is the most high-profile team in the league?

The Basic

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors
When: 7:00 PM MT
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO
How to watch: Somewhere deep in the bowels of the internet
Rival blog: Golden State of Mind

Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Advantage
PG Emmanuel Mudiay Steph Curry Warriors
SG Will Barton Klay Thompson
Warriors
SF Danilo Gallinari Kevin Durany
Warriors
PF Nikola Jokic Draymond Green Warriors
C Jusuf Nurkic Zaza Pachulia
Nuggets
Key
Bench
Guys
Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Juancho Hernangomez Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West, JaVale McGee
Warriors

Injuries: Gary Harris (out), Darrell Arthur (out), Jamal Murray (probable), Damian Jones (out), Elliott Williams (out)

Death lineups vs. Balkan Buddy Ball

The Warriors haven’t unleashed their new and improved death lineup very much this preseason and probably won’t against the Nuggets on Friday night. Nonetheless, the Warriors are still designed to stretch the court. The Nuggets, on the other hand, have been experimenting with a twin towers lineup that features two centers. This makes for a great style fight and test for the so-called "Jurkic" lineup.

Jokic will likely be tasked with the unenviable job of guarding Draymond Green. Green is a power forward with guard-like skills, especially as the screener and playmaker out of pick and rolls. Jokic has looked decent so far this season at containing stretch fours but Draymond and the Warriors are as difficult a matchup for Jokic as there is in the league. The Nuggets will have to make Golden State pay on the glass and on the defensive end of the court, where Jokic and Nurkic will have a size advantage. It should make for a very interesting first quarter and should be somewhat revealing about how much the Jurkic lineup is ready for true small-ball lineups.

Pick and Roll coverage

The Nuggets are experimenting with a new pick and roll coverage in which their bigs drop deep into the paint and zone up, taking away shots at the rim. This strategy is very sound from an analytics stand point as they are all but conceding mid-range shots but trying to eliminate threes and layups. The problem is, the Warriors are really good at shooting mid-range jumpers and really good at creating open threes.

D’Angelo Russell scorched the Nuggets out of 1-5 pick and roll, pull-up jumpers. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson are all better scorers than D’Angelo, especially in that action. The Nuggets new drop back strategy will be put to the most revealing test yet and it could end up being a disaster.

Fully Assembled

So far this preseason, the Nuggets haven’t revealed much about what their rotation will look like beyond the starting unit. We don’t know, for example, if Malone plans on playing minutes with Faried at center, or how often Wilson Chandler will play power forward. We should get a fairly good idea just what the rotation will look like on Friday.

I’m most curious to see if Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler play extended minutes together, how many minutes the Jurkic lineup gets, and how much time Jamal Murray is given on the court. Also, will Murray play point guard at all or will he always play alongside Jameer Nelson or Emmanuel Mudiay?

JaVale is back

The regular season is less than two weeks away. The Nuggets are turning up the intensity a bit more, beginning with Friday’s game against the Warriors. It should be a fun night!