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The Denver Nuggets take on the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena one night after falling to the Utah Jazz 96-84 at Pepsi Center in Denver despite Utah having lost to the Portland Trailblazers the night before. Golden State is coming off an exciting fourth quarter comeback victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Oakland on Wednesday night and remain one of only two unbeaten teams left in the NBA (the Toronto Raptors are the other).
Regular Season Game 6
|8:30 p.m. MT
|Altitude, AM 950
Road (and Home) Warriors
The Warriors have every reason to be confident after their dramatic come-from-behind win over the Los Angeles Clippers at home. Stephen Curry dominated and his singular perimeter shot was on display once again, but it was Harrison Barnes coming up with 10 straight points that brought the Warriors back to within striking distance in the fourth quarter. Klay Thompson has been quiet, but could just as easily break out for a 40 point game as well.
Defensively, Thompson, Barnes and Draymond Green provide a flexible, athletic set of wings that will keep Denver off balance and allow them to defend Gallo a number of different ways. Festus Ezeli isn’t quite as imposing as the man he’s replacing in the starting lineup, but is just as, if not more capable at defending the paint. Just ask Blake Griffin.
Matchup to Watch
Gary Harris gives the Nuggets their best chance to slow down Steph Curry and will have to stick with him on the dribble, through screens and wherever else Curry takes him thanks to Curry’s otherworldly ability to hit 3-pointers from anywhere on the court.
The more Harris can limit Curry without help from other Nuggets defenders the better so the Warriors’ secondary players can’t take advantage a la Serge Ibaka in the Thunder game on Sunday night. Barnes in particular could be the beneficiary of the added attention to Curry (in much the way Ibaka was thanks to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant) as evidenced Barnes’ 10 point barrage in the Clippers game.
Of course, when you’re one of the best shooters to ever play the game, sometimes your shot chart looks like this (from the Halloween night game against the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis):
An open 3 is as easy as a layup to Curry, so Harris would be smart to not worry about the drives and stick to him like glue. Curry comes into the game leading the league in scoring with 35.8 points-per-game on 57.4 percent shooting(!), including 51.9 percent from 3-point range(!) and 94.6 percent from the line(!).
Festus (for the rest of us) Ezeli
Keys to the Game
- Get on the Glass – With Andrew Bogut‘s lingering concussion issues, the Warriors won’t completely dwarf the Nuggets undermanned frontcourt, so the entire team needs to get in on the rebounding to ensure the Warriors don’t get second chance points. They’re good enough on their first shots, they don’t need two per possesion. Ezeli is a worthy replacement for Bogut, but if Denver attacks the boards, they should be able to win the rebounding battle. Provided the Warriors miss the occasional shot, of course.
- Limit Turnovers* – Both Oklahoma City and Utah were able to turn almost every Nuggets turnover into easy baskets and Golden State’s quickness and length on the perimeter will lead to the same if Denver fails to take care of the ball. A team focus on transition defense would go a long way towards making things difficult for the Warriors as well. That said, I’d rather lose the game because Emmanuel Mudiay was too aggressive getting into the paint than because he was afraid to venture in. The Nuggets offense has looked like a different beast when Mudiay is freelancing with the ball. I’d rather see nine assists and six turnovers than two of each.
- Get Gallo Going – The Warriors have a variety of ways to defend Gallinari, but it’s imperative that Denver finds a way to get him going. As Gallo goes, so go the Nuggets so far this season, at least offensively. He played aggresively early in the Jazz game, but the inability of anyone else on the roster to score limited his effectiveness in the second half. The Nuggets need to get Gallo the ball on the move so he can drive into the paint with some space and draw contact on a regular basis.
Andrew Bogut (Questionable – Concussion)
Kevon Looney (Out – Right Hip Surgery)
Kenneth Faried (Probable – Low Back Soreness)
Nikola Jokic (Questionable – Low Back Strain)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Questionable – Low Back Strain)
Wilson Chandler (Out – Right Hip Straing)
Jusuf Nurkic (Out – Left Patellar Tendon Repair)
- Harris hit a couple late shots against the Jazz and he could take an immense amount of pressure off of both Gallo and Mudiay if he were able to do this early in tonight’s game.
- Kostas Papanikolaou made his Nuggets debut with just over one minute left in the game and managed to avoid compiling a single statistic. Hopefully Papa will be able to provide some frontcourt depth that allows Denver’s other bigs to get healthy, especially in the second nights of back-to-backs like this.
- The Warriors love to play small ball, so the lack of depth on the block for the Nuggets may not come into play too much for Denver. It will be interesting to see how much Malone and the Nuggets try to play the Warriors style of game.