Preview: Nuggets face the Warriors in a battle of Western Conference playoff contenders

The Denver Nuggets have just one game left until a nice multi-day break that they richly deserve, but first they have to turn back a Western Conference contender in the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are just one game back of Denver in the standings and Steph Curry looks as good as he ever has. New addition Chris Paul is fitting in well with the team and the Nuggets will have their hands full stopping a team that can score with anyone in the league. It’s the last game of a brutal stretch, but the Nuggets have to muster their energy one last time, even without starting point guard Jamal Murray, and take care of the home court tonight.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (7-1) vs Golden State Warriors (6-2)

When: 8:00 PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. ESPN, AltitudeTV where available (Altitude is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fubo TV). NBA League Pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5. Say you’re Klay Thompson’s kayak builder and you just need a quick second to chat.

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Injury Report: Jamal Murray – out (hamstring), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Draymond Green – questionable (personal reasons)

The Three Things

Key Matchup: Steph Curry vs Everyone

Steph Curry is coming off a Player of the Week award and is shooting 47.5% on 12+ threes a game so far this season, a ludicrous number that will come down a little at some point – and from Denver’s point of view, that time needs to be tonight. The Nuggets went down by 20 points at one time to a Pelicans team that seemed like it couldn’t miss from deep in the first half of their last game, and Curry is unlikely to go cold in the second half like New Orleans did. Curry is averaging almost 31 points a game and no one else on the game has even 17.  Nikola Jokic will do his thing and threaten a 30-point triple-double again, but the Nuggets don’t have Jamal Murray to go berserk and can’t rely on Julian Strawther to do it for the second game in a row either. MPJ will be a tough cover for Golden State but Denver’s easiest path to victory is to make the Warriors struggle with the nearly 40 threes a game they are averaging coming into this contest. The Warriors are 5th in the league in assists because they move the ball so well, so Denver’s perimeter defenders need to play on a string, rotate and trust each other. It won’t just be KCP on Curry – everyone has a part to play in limiting Golden State’s easiest path to victory.

The thing to remember: Rebound the ball. 

Long misses mean long rebounds, and the Nuggets need to hustle out there. The Warriors are fifth so far this season in Offensive Rebounding, and Denver can’t afford to give them second changes if they force a miss on the first shot. The guards will have to do their part especially, as Jokic will be in the paint but the Warriors score the third-fewest points in the paint of any team this year. Team rebounding is how the Nuggets get it done – make a miss, grab the ball, get out in transition. If there’s anything to get greedy over tonight, it’s that.

The thing to bet: Parlay – MPJ over 3.5 threes (+135) and Steph over 4.5 threes (-145) = +266 total

I believe we’re in for a shootout. Michael Porter Jr. is gonna get his shot up, while Steph is averaging 6 made threes a game. It’s not an automatic cash, but in 2 of the last three games MPJ made 4 or more threes, and I expect him to be shooting them early and often. At +266 for the parlay it pays off decently if you think the volume will be there.

Prediction: 124-116 Denver. Golden State has a Hall of Famer burning the nets down, but so does Denver, and it’s at altitude early in the season. The Nuggets will have a little more gas than the Warriors and that should make all the difference.


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