Tuesday night was disappointing for several reasons, the least of which was the Nuggets' buzzer-beating loss to the hands of Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies. But even given another tough defeat, Denver can return home with a head held high. The team went on a long road trip and finished 2-3 against very tough opponents, and in all but one game this season have been in contention to win. There have been questionable decisions made and poor execution along the way, but the fact that Denver is playing competitive basketball against good teams far outweighs the little things that need fixing.
Now the Nuggets must focus their attention on the star-studded Warriors, who are still trying to figure some kinks out of their own with the addition of Kevin Durant. Denver is fortunate that the Warriors will be coming in on the second night of a back-to-back after beating Dallas pretty handily last night in Oakland, and will look to take advantage of the poor scheduling and a possible absence of Steph Curry after tweaking his ankle. However, nothing is guaranteed and it will take a positive effort from everyone on the roster to steal a win.
Who: Golden State Warriors (6-2) at Denver Nuggets (3-4)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO
How to watch: Altitude
Rival blog: Golden State of Mind
|PG||Emmanuel Mudiay||Steph Curry||Warriors|
|SG||Gary Harris||Klay Thompson||Warriors|
|SF||Danilo Gallinari||Kevin Durant||Warriors|
|PF||Nikola Jokic||Draymond Green||Warriors|
|C||Jusuf Nurkic||Zaza Pachulia||Nuggets|
|Key bench guys||Kenneth Faried, Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez||Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West, Patrick McCaw||Warriors|
Injury Report: Will Barton - ankle (out), Wilson Chandler - out (hamstring), Darrell Arthur - out (knee)
What to watch for: Home sweet home
In the years removed from the magical season when Denver went 38-3 at Pepsi Center, the Nuggets have not only put up a mediocre win percentage of 47.9% at home but have also tanked to dead last in attendance. Still, 16.7% of NBA GMs believe that the Nuggets have the best home court advantage in the league even if last year Pepsi Center resembled a morgue more than an arena.
The Nuggets are back home now and will play nine of their next 12 games in Denver. They have already showed they can be competitive on the road, but one thing that absolutely must happen this year is an improvement at home. The Nuggets have a great opportunity to steal a win, get back to .500 and ultimately finish the month of November with a competitive record, but it all starts tonight in what will likely be in front of a crazy crowd. A win against Golden State in a rowdy atmosphere will absolutely do wonders to get casual fans back at The Can while boosting the confidence of this young team.
Key Statistic: 30.4%
30.4% represents the Nuggets defensive three-point field goal percentage, which is good for third in the league right now. Despite the small sample size, clearly this is a huge improvement from last year when Denver was at the bottom of the barrel in defending the three. Golden State, on the other hand, has an army of three-point assassins in Curry, Thompson, Durant and even Green but is only shooting 32.4% from deep so far this year. That doesn't mean the Nuggets can take this lightly - three of the most dangerous shooters in the league are employed by the Warriors and all have the capability to heat up at a moment's notice. If the Nuggets can keep Golden State at bay (lol) from the three-point line like they did in the preseason, they will have a legitimate shot at stealing this game. It won't be easy.
Nuggets Spotlight: Emmanuel Mudiay
After a sorely disappointing night in Detroit on Saturday where he failed to make a single field goal, public confidence in the 20-year-old point guard hit an all-time low. How did he respond? By lighting up Boston for 24 points in the first quarter on his way to a 30 point game, then following that up with 23 against Memphis two nights later. Mudiay's sudden turnaround is a very positive sign, but he still has several kinks to work out in his ballhandling and turnovers.
Tonight Mudiay has the task of guarding Steph Curry, who will look to not only continue his hot three-point shooting but to curb any momentum that Mudiay has gained over the past few days. If there's one pattern from the last two games, it's that if Mudiay can get going early, the Nuggets offense will click. How he performs out of the gate will be a huge influence to the benefit or detriment of the Nuggets.
Prediction: Nuggets 115, Warriors 105
The Nuggets are hungry and looking to atone for their late game blunders, especially their last home game against the Trail Blazers. This is as good of a night as any as the Warriors are coming in late on the back-to-back and will be gassed. Look for Denver to push the pace early and often in a huge win.