Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. On Tuesday, the Denver Nuggets beat the Golden State Warriors 89-86 with only 29 points scored in the second half. While it may not have been the most fascinating game to watch, the Nugget defense dominated for most of the night. They held top MVP candidate Steph Curry to only 6-16 shooting and 31% overall for Golden State. It is expected Steph Curry regains his rhythm for tonight’s battle as he did in the second half, so Denver’s offense must keep pace.
The Warriors will be without their defensive anchor Draymond Green again due to health and safety protocols. Golden State looked like a shell of themselves without him, so the Nuggets might want to take advantage of their weaker interior defense. With that being said the Warrior offense should be more prolific as they look to add Jordan Poole to their lineup tonight after missing Tuesday’s contest. Austin Rivers and Facu Campazzo defended the perimeter well last matchup, and their effectiveness on Curry and Poole will be a significant factor in the outcome of tonight’s game.
Who: Denver Nuggets (17-16, 8-6 home) vs Golden State Warriors (27-7, 11-4 away)
When: 7:30 PM MT
Where: Ball Arena
How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio
Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind
Expected Starting Lineups:
GS: PG Steph Curry, SG Jordan Poole, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Juan Toscano-Anderson, C Kevon Looney
DEN: PG Facu Campazzo, SG Austin Rivers, SF Will Barton, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Aaron Gordon (day-to-day), Monte Morris (day to day), Austin Rivers (day to day), Vlatko Cancar (day-to-day), Markus Howard (out), Bol Bol (out), James Wiseman (out), Draymond Green (out), Damian Lee (out)
Three Things to Watch
2nd half scoring
The Nuggets have struggled with this all season but Tuesday’s performance was the worst by far. They only combined for 29 points in the entire second half, and if it were not for Denver’s incredible defense throughout the game, it could have been a blowout. The Nuggets shot 1-18 from beyond the arc in the second half and 10-41 from the field. A rare sight, but Nikola Jokic was not producing as well either. He shot 2-11 in the second half and 0-4 from three along with 7 turnovers. Just as I pointed out with Curry, it will be rare for Jokic to shoot that poorly again so look for a big night out of both superstars.
They did a fantastic job of this in game one but it will be even more difficult to repeat it. Their game plan in the first half was executed to near perfection. They held him to 1-6 shooting and 0-5 from three, but he did heat up in the second half. He almost single-handedly led the comeback by shooting 50% from the field while knocking down five threes in the half. Hopefully, the Nuggets can find their offensive confidence at home because Curry will be motivated and if they cannot keep him in check, they could be down 15+ in a blink.
Dominate home court
This is the mentality many would like to see especially in this game. The crowd will be rocking at Ball Arena and the Nuggets need to find a way to consistently feed off the home audience. If they do struggle for long periods of time, there will likely be a healthy number of Warrior fans in attendance and they will be hungry to let Denver know. The Nuggets had two separate instances where they were held scoreless for about five minutes. That cannot let that happen twice because Curry could be responsible for 10+ points in five minutes by himself. The Warriors are a great defensive team but without Draymond, they are not as effective. Personally, it would be great to see Denver avoid relying on the three-ball so much and return to paint. It could be what wins them the game.