The Denver Nuggets (16-16) are back tonight for a late-night matchup on the road with the Golden State Warriors (27-6). Denver is heading to a facility that was a house of horrors for them a season ago, as they lost Jamal Murray to a torn ACL before losing Will Barton for two months on a return trip later on. Now, Denver is still reeling from injuries that started last season while the Warriors have sprinted out to the best record in the NBA despite dealing with a litany of their own injuries and covid issues. 

The Nuggets remain one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA on a night-to-night basis. They can hang with the league’s top teams one night before getting blown out by teams that will be picking in the top five next summer in the draft. After the starters were carrying the bench for the first month and a half of the season, the bench has been doing the heavy lifting as of late to keep the team in games. The stars need to start carrying their weight again. 

For Golden State, they’re just biding their time. Klay Thompson is expected to make his return sooner rather than later, and, once the team gets the rest of the roster back from covid protocols, they’re poised to slice through the league over the back half of the season. They already have the league’s best record despite missing multiple starters and rotation players. This team is ready to re announce their presence to the league after injuries have derailed their past two seasons. 

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (16-16, 8-10 away) @ Golden State Warriors (27-6, 16-2 home)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Chase Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in San Francisco. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Expected Starting Lineups:

GSW: PG Stephen Curry, SG Jordan Poole, SF Otto Porter Jr., PF Jonathan Kuminga, C Kevon Looney

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: JaMychal Green (knee), Aaron Gordon (hamstring), Andre Iguodala (knee)

Three Things to Watch

Guarding Stephen Curry

How do you slow down someone that’s playing the most loose and free basketball that we’ve ever seen while simultaneously being extremely efficient on most nights? That’s the task that lies in front of the Nuggets tonight. With all of the players out of this game for Golden State due to the covid protocols, it’s going to be the Steph show in this one, and Denver has to slow him down because he can score enough to win this game for Golden State by himself. 

Play to Your Strengths

Denver’s biggest strength as a team is Nikola Jokic. The 6’11” Serbian center is one of the best players in the NBA, and he can take over a game on any given night. Too often, Denver gets away from that, and it ends up costing them over the course of a game. That shouldn’t be the case tonight. The Warriors don’t have a big that can withstand Jokic down in the post. Let him eat inside and force the Warriors to change how they want to play ball. 

Bench Battle

The Nuggets are the “healthy” team heading into tonight’s matchup. While Denver is still missing P.J. Dozier, Michael Porter Jr. and Murray, the Warriors have been hit hard by the covid bug with four players currently in the protocols, including two starters and a key guard off of the bench. Denver’s bench has been playing well recently, and, if they can maintain that level of play in this game, Denver could sneak out of the Chase Center with a win against a short-handed Golden State roster.