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Preview: Nuggets take on Warriors in rescheduled duel

In a rescheduled match that inconveniences both teams, the Warriors head to Denver without their stars.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After a thrilling overtime win versus the New Orleans Pelicans, the Denver Nuggets take on the Golden State Warriors in less than 24 hours after the end of the New Orleans game. Steve Kerr and Michael Malone have both voiced their issues with the rescheduling of this game. This game was supposed to take place on December 30th but was unfortunately canceled. Coach Kerr has said that he will not be sending Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, or Andrew Wiggins due to the scheduling of the game. Coach Malone said in his postgame interview that he hasn’t made the decision on whether he will rest players yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the starters don’t play much and get more rest than a normal game.

The Warriors have been slumping as of late, they are on a 4 game losing streak and have only won 2 of their last 8 games. With a loss tonight the Warriors would drop to the 3rd seed but if the Nuggets win they would tie the Dallas Mavericks for the 5th seed. The Nuggets need to capitalize on facing a short-handed Warriors team, every win matters significantly at this point of the season.

The Essentials:

Who?: The Denver Nuggets (19-11 at home) Vs. the Golden State Warriors (17-14 on the road)

When?: 7:00 p.m. (MST)

Where?: Ball Arena. Denver, Colorado.

How to watch/listen?: AltitudeTV or NBA TV (Good Luck), 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio as well.

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Injuries:

Den: *As of writing this there’s been no announcement of resting players for Denver*

Jamal Murray OUT (Knee), Michael Porter Jr. OUT (Back), and Vlatko Cancar OUT (Foot).

GSW: Steph Curry OUT (Rest), Klay Thompson OUT (Rest), Andrew Wiggins OUT (Rest), Draymond Green OUT (Calf/Back), James Wiseman OUT (Knee), Gary Payton II QUESTIONABLE (Knee), Andre Igoudala DOUBTFUL (Back).

Projected Starters:

Den: Monte Morris (PG), Will Barton (SG), Aaron Gordon (SF), Jeff Green (PF), Nikola Jokic (C).

GSW: Jordan Poole (PG), Juan Toscano-Anderson (SG), Otto Porter Jr. (SF), Jonathan Kuminga (PF), Kevin Looney (C).

Three Keys to the Game:

Keep playing at the same level

While it is unlikely that Nikola Jokić will have a similar performance to last night the Nuggets need to keep playing with the same level of aggression and urgency. There was a noticeable difference in the way this team played versus the Pelicans and Houston Rockets compared to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nuggets need to keep up the energy and ball movement they’ve had in the last few games and not take this game at a lesser value because of who isn’t playing. The Warriors are lacking star power so if the Nuggets can build up a big lead it will be difficult for the Warriors to surmount it.

Try to get the Warriors in foul trouble

With Coach Kerr resting many of his high minute players the Nuggets should try and get Warrior players into foul trouble early. Many of the Warriors starters are normally bench players so that would mean Coach Kerr would have to go deep into the bench for replacement players. While the Warriors are a talented roster from 1-15, it will make the Nuggets players’ lives a lot easier if they are playing end of the bench guys instead of starters. If Looney gets in foul trouble, the Warriors’ best option to defend Jokić is Nemanja Bjelica or Otto Porter Jr.

Can the Nuggets win and still rest the starters?

The Nuggets are in the middle of a 5 game in 8 days stretch and are going into the second night of a back-to-back after winning in overtime the night before. The Nuggets also play another back-to-back on the 9th and 10th, they also play a game every other day in March. The players might not want to sit out minutes but it could really pay dividends for the end of the season and playoffs if they do. If the Nuggets can escape with a win where Jokić and Gordon don’t play heavy minutes that would be the best-case scenario. Jokić missed a game a few days ago due to a “Non-Covid Sickness” so giving him some extra rest would probably be good for him.