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Preview: Nuggets and Warriors begin series in primetime

Showtime.

SFChronicleWarriors Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Today is the day the Denver Nuggets seek revenge for something that happened almost 10 years ago. Back in 2013, the Nuggets lost to a rising Warriors squad that got a breakout season by one of the best players in the NBA today, Stephen Curry.

The Nuggets were the 3-seed in that series, so they will look to turn the tide almost 10 years later by trying to accomplish what the Warriors did to them. It’s going to take a team effort and a big series from reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, but if the Nuggets have shown us anything over the last few years it’s too never count them out when their backs are against the wall.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors (Game One)

When: 6:30 PM MST

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

How to Watch/Listen: ABC (PRIMETIME TV) or you can listen at 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Projected Starting Lineups:

Warriors — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney

Nuggets — Monte Morris, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green, Nikola Jokic

Game 1 betting odds on DraftKings Sportsbook:

Line: Warriors -6.5 | Total: 223 | Nuggets money line: +205

Three Things to Watch

How do the Nuggets slow down Steph Curry?

It’s no easy task to slow down arguably the best shooter in NBA history, but the Nuggets have to try if they want to have success in this series. Austin Rivers is someone who has done a fairly good job defending Curry in their previous matchups this season, but it’s also unlikely he starts in game one.

That leaves Gordon, Morris, and Barton to try and slow down Curry, which are matchups that have favored Golden State in previous matchups this year. I would expect to see Rivers close if he has success guarding Curry once again, which could lead him to starting in game two and beyond.

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Curry has not played in a month due to a foot injury, but reports are he’s going to play and if that’s the case I highly doubt he’s limited in any fashion. The Warriors come into the playoffs on a five game winning streak and are riding high with their star player set to return. If the Nuggets can neutralize Curry, it could halt the Warriors momentum and hopefully give Denver an opportunity to steal game one.

Can the Nuggets keep it close when Nikola Jokic is off the floor?

The minutes that could truly decide this series are the ones where the Nuggets superstar big man is off the floor. Jokic is going to keep the Nuggets competitive in the minutes he’s on the floor, but can Denver stay in the game when he needs a break?

In the regular season, the answer was often no, but luckily for the Nuggets I would expect Jokic to take quick breaks. Jokic is probably going to average around 37-40 minutes a night, which is way more than the 33.5 minutes per game he averaged in the regular season.

Jokic has proven he can take on a bigger workload in the playoffs, but the Nuggets are asking him to do a lot more this season in the absence of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. The key to winning the non-Jokic minutes is going to come down one player in my option, which leads us into our final thing to watch in game one.

How does Bones Hyland perform in his first playoff game?

We all know Hyland does not lack for confidence, which usually pays off in the Nuggets favor. Hyland has put together a number of big games throughout his rookie season and a lot of those have come in big games on national TV.

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Hyland is not afraid of the big stage and there is none bigger than game one in primetime against one of the darling teams of the NBA. In order for Denver to win the non-Jokic minutes, Hyland is going to either have to score in bunches or set his teammates up for success.

When the Nuggets second unit has found success this season, Hyland has been the one leading the charge and Denver is going to rely on him once again in the postseason. Starting out the playoffs strong would be massive for Hyland’s confidence and if he could put together a big game it gives Denver a chance of walking away victorious.

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