The Denver Nuggets are heading into Oakland with their heads held high. At the face of it, the Nuggets quick two game west coast swing had all the looks of an 0-2 trip. However, Denver made a point last night to show that they are capable of winning in Portland (something they hadn’t done in four years) and proved it by putting a 102-85 beatdown on the Trail Blazers. Unfortunately for Denver, the quick trip gets no easier as now they head to Golden State on a back to back to take on the Warriors.

Working in the Nuggets favor is that the Warriors are also on a back to back after taking on the Los Angeles Lakers last night and will be without star point guard Stephen Curry. Working against the Nuggets is the fact that the Warriors were at home so they got to sleep in their own beds while the Nuggets likely didn’t get to their hotel until about 3A.M. Also working against the Nuggets is the fact that the Warriors are the best team in the league. With a bevy of stars and a better night’s rest, one has to think Golden State has a clear advantage here.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (17-15) at Golden State Warriors (26-6)

When: 6:30 PM MST

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland CA

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude radio AM 950

Rival blog: Golden State of Mind

Position Nuggets Warriors Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Patrick McCaw Nuggets
SG Gary Harris Klay Thompson Warriors
SF Wilson Chandler Kevin Durant Warriors
PF Nikola Jokic Draymond Green Even
C Mason Plumlee Jordan Bell Even
Bench Will Barton, Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, Trey Lyles, Torrey Craig, Kenneth Faried David West, Omri Casspi, Andre Moleguodala, Nick Young Even

Injured players: Emmanuel Mudiay – questionable (ankle), Paul Millsap – out (wrist), Shaun Livingston – out (knee), Zaza Pachulia – out (shoulder), Stephen Curry – out (ankle), Chris Boucher – out (knee)

Key Matchup: Gary Harris vs Klay Thompson

Ah yes, Klay Thompson vs Klay Thompson lite, this matchup has all the makings of an epic duel. Each of these guys is going to be a big part of their offense and each will be tasked with stopping the other. Harris, who had been dealing with a minor injury, returned to full participation last night and it couldn’t come sooner for the Nuggets. After keeping C.J. McCollum to a pedestrian 15 points last night, the Nuggets will need the same type of effort from Gary tonight. Kevin Durant is going to get his so with Curry out, if you can keep Klay in control and force the Warriors to rely heavily on Draymond Green on offense, thats going to give you the best chance for victory.

Key thing to watch for: early energy

With both teams on the second night of a back to back, who ever is able to get out in front early is likely going to be the team to come away victorious tonight. As the game progresses into the later parts of the second half, legs are going to get tired and it’s going to be extremely difficult to try and make a run to get back into it. The Nuggets have to bring the energy early on and try to get a lead before the Warriors bury them, it’s really their only hope.

Opening thought: throw this game out

The deck is so stacked against Denver here. It doesn’t matter that the Warriors are also on a back to back, them being home for both of the games is a huge advantage. With the Nuggets coming off an emotional high from the blowout against Portland, this game has blowout loss written all over it. If ever there was a schedule loss, this is it. Don’t be surprised if Denver gets their doors blown off but also take it for what it is. Getting housed by the Warriors tonight really doesn’t mean much other than the Nuggets had to play an all time great team on a night when the schedule was doing them no favors.

Prediction: Warriors 118 – Nuggets 104