The Denver Nuggets have beaten the Warriors four times since the start of the 2016-17 season. That doesn’t sound like anything to write home about, but few teams can claim that many regular season wins against one of the greatest collections of talent in the history of professional sports. Denver split the season series with the eventual champions last season and they’re hoping to do so again with an improbable win in Oracle on Wednesday night.
There’s been a noticeable difference in the last two games between these teams. The Warriors themselves have denied any intentions of sending a message, but we know what we saw. The Warriors hit the Nuggets hard and fast. When they met in Denver on January fourteenth I half expected the referees to waive their arms and just call it at halftime.
The Warriors own the West. They own the league. Another win would essentially cement them in the position they’ve always belonged—at the top looking down.
Michael Malone has made it clear that he believes it’s important to enter the playoffs with some positive momentum. He wants to use these final games as a runway. If one subscribes to that belief, there would be no better time for the Nuggets to rediscover their form than in their final meeting with Golden State.
Who: Denver Nuggets (51-25) - Warriors (52-24)
When: 8:30 PM MDT
Where: Oracle Arena. Oakland, CA
How to watch: TNT
Rival blog: Golden State of Mind
Denver: Michael Porter Jr. - OUT (you know why) | Jamal Murray - PROBABLE (left Ankle Sprain)
Golden State: Quinn Cook - PROBABLE (personal) | Kevin Durant - PROBABLE (personal) | Damian Jones - OUT (pectoral)
What to Watch For:
Murray has been heating up but he sprained his left ankle in the loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday. Murray has the ability to take elevate Denver’s offense and make them a threat to just about anyone. He’ll be the key to any success in the playoffs and in this game with the Warriors.
How will his ankle hold up?
Key thing to watch for: Jokic’s body language
Murray is the key because Jokic is the constant. The bedrock. Since the All-star break wrapped up, we’ve seen Jokic grow lethargic, rancorous, and straight up sad at times. He seems worn out, but they’ll need a positive and engaged Jokic to have any shot in this one.
How will he respond following another ejection and some choice words from his head coach?
Will Barton and Gary Harris
Are still trying to find their rhythm. We expected to see a trio of healthy and deadly guards circling the greatest playmaking big who has ever filled that role this season. But we haven’t. Between the injuries and the otherwise inexplicable drop in three-point shooting, the Nuggets haven’t operated at full capacity. I would imagine there’s a large contingent of fans who need to see the guards get it going again before they can muster much confidence for the postseason.