Game 41: 2014-15 NBA Season

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18-22 (6-13 away)
Series 0-0
32-6 (17-1 at home)
Jan. 19, 2014
Oracle Arena – Oakland, CA
2:00 PM MT
Altitude / 104.3 FM

Ty Lawson
PG Stephen Curry
Arron Afflalo
SG Klay Thompson
Wilson Chandler
SF Harrison Barnes
Kenneth Faried
PF Draymond Green
Jusuf Nurkic
C Andrew Bogut
You’re here!
Blogs Golden State of Mind
Danilo Gallinari – knee (out), JaVale McGee – leg (out), Randy Foye – quad (probable) Injuries Festus Ezeli – ankle (out)

The Nuggets haven’t lost a season series to the Warriors since the 2002-03 (17-win) season. I have a sneaky suspicion that streak ends this season.
Etc … Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw is an Oakland Native and played for the Warriors for 39 games (32 starts) during the 1997-98 season.

Before jumping into the game preview for Monday’s game at Golden State, I want to share this amazing video that was shown on the Pepsi Center scoreboard before Saturday evening’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and I presume is being shown in every NBA arena this weekend / tomorrow …

Not only has the NBA been an historically trailblazing business in terms of racial integration here in the United States, but it has done a phenomenal job accepting athletes, personnel, referees, coaches, etc. from all around the world, of all genders and of all sexual orientations. The NBA may have its faults here and there, but I've always been proud to be a fan of the greatest professional sport in the world: one that openly welcomes who you are and not what you are.

And thus, it's fitting that the NBA will showcase several games on the day we honor the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaking of who you are and not what you are, most unfortunately our Denver Nuggets have no clue as to who or what they are. And at the halfway point of the season, no less.

40 games into the 2014-15 NBA season – and for the second consecutive season – Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw has been unable to craft an identity for this talented (but not exceptionally talented) squad. And it has show in the results as Shaw’s troops creep towards the NBA’s midway point at 18-22 and five games back of the Western Conference’s eighth playoff seed. For the uninitiated, five games back of a playoff spot in the West at this point in the season means it will be virtually impossible to compete for a post-season spot. More unfortunately perhaps, at 18-22 the Nuggets simultaneously aren’t nearly bad enough to compete for a top-five lottery selection in June’s NBA Draft. Even a pre-trade deadline roster tear down won’t give the Nuggets enough losses to fend off the lowly Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings for lottery supremacy.

Putting it bluntly, the Nuggets are in a crummy spot.

Monday’s opponent, conversely, appear to be on a highway to NBA heaven and I fear that our Nuggets will be roadkill on said highway come Monday evening when the game is over. 38 games into the 2014-15 season, the Golden State Warriors are kicking ass with an astounding 17-1 home record to date and the conference’s best road record at 15-5. Coming off a tough 127-115 loss at Oklahoma City on Friday night, the Warriors – playing on a road back-to-back – decimated the Rockets in Houston on Saturday night 131-106. The Nuggets, meanwhile, barely beat the Dallas Mavericks at home with the Mavericks playing a road back-to-back and missing three-fifths of their starters last Wednesday.

Clearly, the Nuggets and Warriors – opponents in the 2013 playoffs who competed in a fiercely and closely contested first round battle – are heading in opposite directions.

Three things to look for in this game …

1) The Warriors' home court juggernaut. The numbers are astounding. Not only do the Warriors lead all NBA teams in home scoring (113.2), home fast break points (24.6) and home point differential (15.9), but they do so by a large margin. The team with the second-best home point different is Portland with 9.0.

2) Stephen Curry vs. Ty Lawson. Lawson is the second-best point guard from the same draft class (2009) as Curry. But Curry is on the verge of superstardom whereas Lawson will likely never make All-Star stardom. Amazingly, point guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn were drafted before Curry (now you know why David Kahn doesn’t have an NBA job) but other solid point guards like Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague and Darren Collison were selected in 2009. With the exception of Flynn – a huge bust who hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2012 – that’s seven starting point guards in one draft. Wow.

3) Will Shaw remember that Jusuf Nurkic plays for the Nuggets? While the Nuggets were getting eaten alive inside the paint against the Timberwolves throughout the fourth quarter on Saturday night, Shaw stubbornly left Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic on the bench in favor of J.J. Hickson and his matador defense. If the Nuggets have any prayer of competing with the Warriors in Oakland, they’ll need a big game from Nurkic to slow the game down.

Scouting the Warriors

Warriors Non-Stiffs

-Stephen Curry: In a league loaded with great point guards, Curry is at the top of the heap and gives the NBA its best shot to have a new champion in June aside from the (just) nine who have claimed one since 1980.

-Draymond Green: We didn’t know it at the time, but Green’s coming out party happened against Denver in Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Playoffs when the Warriors crushed Denver by 14 points at Oakland thanks to a big night from Green, who was filling in for the injured David Lee. Green has now cemented himself as the Warriors starting four and fills up the box score nightly (I know because he’s on my fantasy team).

-Klay Thompson: Remember when the Warriors almost traded the sharp-shooting Thompson for Kevin Love? It’s a good thing they didn’t because Thompson is averaging career highs in points (21.7), assists (3.0), field goal percentage (47.1), three-point percentage (44.4) and steals (1.2).

Warriors Stiffs

-David Lee: I’m a Lee fan, but as the Warriors most expensive player (by far), Lee can’t stay healthy and thus isn’t delivering on his $15-plus million salary. The verdict is still out on Lee’s 2014-15 season as he is slowly but surely starting to produce for Golden State in a reduced bench role.

Andre Iguodala: Like Lee, “Benedict Arnold” Iguodala isn’t performing to his salary level. Or anywhere close to it for that matter. Due between $11 and $12 million this season and two more beyond it, Iguodala is rewarding the Warriors with career lows in every statistical category … except turnovers.

Final Thought

Nobody expects the Nuggets to win on Monday, but this game will show Nuggets fans everywhere whether or not this team has any mettle left. If by chance they lay down to the Warriors and find themselves on the receiving end of a mid-afternoon blowout, perhaps Shaw should leave Warriors head coach Steve Kerr with his assistant coaching resume.