clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Preview: Nuggets host Warriors in battle for top seed in the West

New, comments

The top two teams in the West rendezvous for the second time this season - will the Nuggets send the Warriors home with another L?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After shaking off some rust in a close defeat of the Trail Blazers on Sunday, the Denver Nuggets now face off against the Golden State Warriors in what will be the biggest game of the season. This will be a huge battle of the two best with arguably the best two teams in the West, with the winner tonight taking sole possession of first place in the conference.

The Warriors need no introduction, but it’s always a good reminder that the Nuggets have had their number as of late. Denver won the first meeting between the two in October in a close 100-98 game sealed by a clutch Juancho Hernangomez block, and have had big wins over Golden State in each of the last two seasons. But none of that matters now. This is a meeting of a David team that almost no one outside of Denver believes is a contender against a legitimate Goliath. If the Nuggets want to keep their name in the national conversation, they will have to earn it tonight.

The Basics

Who: Golden State Warriors (29-14) at Denver Nuggets (29-13)

When: 7:00 PM MT

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO

How to watch: Altitude

Rival blog: Golden State of Mind

Position
Warriors
Denver
Advantage
PG
Steph Curry
Jamal Murray
Warriors
SG
Klay Thompson
Malik Beasley
Warriors
SF
Kevin Durant
Torrey Craig
Warriors
PF
Draymond Green
Paul Millsap
Nuggets
C
Kevon Looney
Nikola Jokic
Nuggets
Bench
Andre Iguoudala, Shaun Livingston, Jonas Jerebko, Alfonzo McKinnie
Monte Morris, Will Barton, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee
Nuggets

Injury Report: Gary Harris - questionable (hamstring), Trey Lyles - questionable (wrist); DeMarcus Cousins - out (Achilles), Damian Jones - out (pectoral)

What to watch: Magic Jokic

Nikola Jokic has been playing out of his mind. In the last five games, the Joker is averaging an incredible 26.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists. Let that sink in for a second. He’s doing things nearly unheard of for a man his size, and he’s doing it at an efficient 54% field goal percentage. His game against Portland might have been one of the best of his career, and it didn’t even come as a surprise. The way Jokic has been playing, a monster performance against a Warriors team that is weak at center is to be expected.

Key to the Game: Home Court Advantage

There are a million reasons why Bill Simmons was wrong about the Pepsi Center crowd, especially considering that Denver has the best home record in the league (18-3) and have won 12 straight at home. But the Warriors will always draw a herd of bandwagoners, and it will be up to the Denver faithful to get the job done once again. Seriously, the fans have been awesome and don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Mile High Magic is real - and when it’s on, the Nuggets can’t be beat at home. Tonight should be no different.

Opening Thought: Playoff Basketball

It’s mid-January and there isn’t really any reason to be talking playoffs. But if there’s one thing the Nuggets lost out on by missing the postseason in each of the last two years, it’s the experience provided from playing in high-stake games. It’s not often that regular season matches actually serve as a close proxy for the playoffs, but tonight is definitely one of them. Toppling the Warriors again could be another big challenge but is one that can provide plenty of experience for the young Nuggets.