There’s no time to celebrate the Denver Nuggets hot start as just one day after winning their home opener against the Phoenix Suns they welcome in the defending world champion Golden State Warriors. It would seem as though Denver couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season with a gritty win over the Los Angeles Clippers in LA followed by their blowout victory over the Suns which was led by Nikola Jokic and his outstanding 35-12-11 triple double where he was also a perfect 11 of 11 from the field. However, Will Barton left the game with a scary injury in the third quarter and did not return, dampening the spirits of Nuggets Nation.

The Nuggets will have to focus on what they can control and that will be trying to stop the heavyweight Warriors. Golden State has started their title defense with victories against the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder and as is to be expected, are led by their pair of MVPs Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Both players are averaging over 30 points early on with Curry being his usual force from behind the three point line and Durant piling up stats in multiple categories while still carrying a major scoring load. The Warriors of course also bring considerable depth with fellow all stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green giving their usual contributions. Throw in Golden State’s added day of rest and the Nuggets have all they can handle tonight.

The Basics

Who: Golden State Warriors (2-0) at Denver Nuggets (2-0)

When: 6:00 PM MDT

Where: The Can, Denver, CO

How to watch: Altitude TV, and the AltitudeNOW App

How to Listen: Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Position Nuggets Warriors Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Steph Curry Warriors
SG Gary Harris Klay Thompson Even
SF Torrey Craig Kevin Durant Warriors
PF Paul Millsap Draymond Green Even
C Nikola Jokic Damian Jones Nuggets
Bench Trey Lyles, Malik Beasley, Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris, Juancho Hernangomez Andre Iguodala, Jonas Jerebko, Kevon Looney, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook Warriors

Injured players: Will Barton – out (hip), Isaiah Thomas – out (hip), Michael Porter Jr. – out (foot), Jarred Vanderbilt – out (foot), Andre Iguodala – questionable (calf), DeMarcus Cousins – out (achilles)

Key matchup: Kevin Durant vs whoever

Durant is going to pose a problem no matter who guards him. That was doubly true when it comes to the Nuggets who are fairly undersized at the three spot. That’s triply true with Barton unable to go. The Nuggets could turn to Torrey Craig who is no doubt a stingy and capable defender, but he gives a pretty significant height advantage to Durant who is well known for burying jumpers over smaller opponents. Juancho Hernangomez could also be a candidate to defend KD given Juancho’s length and athleticism. Even then, Durant is a far more formidable matchup than Juancho has shown to be capable of dealing with. No matter who the Nuggets throw at the reigning Finals MVP, they’re going to need a stellar effort to get a victory.

Key thing to watch for: making up for Barton’s absence

The Nuggets have declared Barton out for tonight’s game against the Warriors. The defensive end was going to be a struggle no matter what tonight but losing Barton on the offensive end really hurts. The Nuggets starting unit is extremely effective at scoring with Barton at the three and against a team with the fire power of Golden State the Nuggets need all the scoring they can get. Craig filled in for Barton mostly after Will exited last night and as nice of a player as he is, he doesn’t come close to the offensive ability that Barton has. The Nuggets depth could get a big test very early on in the season and tonight would be day one of that test. Pay close attention to who is ready to step up.

Opening thought: what a win this would be

Nothing can make the Nuggets feel better after Barton’s injury than continuing their roll and doing it against the defending champs. A big story line coming into this season was whether this team’s young core was ready to step up mentally and take on the challenge of playing excellent basketball night in and night out. So far they’ve had a pair of games that previous iterations of this unit could have easily dropped. Opening night on the road and a home opener against an inferior team are both scenarios we’ve seen Denver lose in the recent past. Not this season though. The Nuggets took care of business through the first two contests and can really put the exclamation point on the opening week of the season with a victory. A win tonight will have the city buzzing about the impressive start by this young but extremely talented squad.