Preview: Jokic and the Nuggets look to reset at home for Game 3

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Can home-court advantage spring hope for the Nuggets in Game 3?

The Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors will battle it out at Ball Arena in Game 3 tonight. The Warriors hold the series advantage 2-0, but Denver hopes their home court can restore some momentum. The Nuggets have played well in each first quarter of the series, but they have not been able to absorb the second-half onslaught of the Warriors. They dominated the third quarter in Game 2, outscoring Denver by 14, so look for a different intensity out of this group in the second half.

They say role players play better at home, so the Nuggets are counting on an effective performance from the rest of this group. In Game 2, Denver’s second-leading scorers from their starting group were Barton and Morris with 12 points. The entire starting group outside of Jokic only recorded one free throw attempt, so anticipate Denver to be much more aggressive attacking the basket in Game 3. This is a clear mus-win scenario. If Denver loses tonight, they are staring down the barrel of their second sweep in two years, but if they win tonight, they capture vital confidence for Game 4.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (48-34, 23-18 home) vs Golden State Warriors (53-29, 22-19 away)

When: 8:00 PM MT

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: TNT or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Expected Starting Lineups:

GSW: PG Jordan Poole, SG Klay Thompson, SF Andrew Wiggins, PF Draymond Green, C Kevon Looney

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

Injuries: Jamal Murray (out), Michael Porter Jr. (out), Andre Iguodala (day to day), James Wiseman (out)

Game 3 betting odds on DraftKings Sportsbook:

Spread: Warriors -2 | Total: 224 | Nuggets money line: +105

Three Keys

Attack the rim

Jokic cannot be the only one that garners attention in the paint. Denver needs to be able to dictate the defense. If Golden State collapses the paint on drives, then attack the basket and drive and kick. If they are aggressive with their perimeter defense, drive to the rim, and have cutters sprint to the basket for help if needed. There has to be an aggressive, confident mentality for Denver. Don’t just drive looking for fouls, but drive with the intention for a basket and the fouls will come. Outside of Jokic in Game 2, Monte Morris was the only one with a free throw attempt from the starters, which has to drastically change if the Nuggets want to counter Golden State’s offensive success.

Do not lose sight of your man

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Denver lose sight of their man, and Golden State cuts to the rim for an easy two, or they relocate to the perimeter. They have such a fast-paced moving offense that if you lose sight of your man for a second, you already lost the possession. Further, know your personnel. If a big switches onto Curry or Poole, get a help defender over there to get it out of their hands. Do not let them mandate what happens on their end of the floor. If Denver sends help, they will be dictating where the ball goes, and the rotations will follow but they must be crisp.

Execute Nuggets basketball

It seems like the Nuggets forgot what got them here. Yes, the Warriors are a great ball movement team but so are the Nuggets. Denver predicates their offense on movement with and without the basketball, so they need to run around in the half-court just like Golden State does. Tire them out on the offensive end because if the Nuggets can increase the pace on offense, the altitude might slow Golden State down on their end. Use the home court to your advantage. Run around, cut, set screens, relocate constantly. Never stay stagnant on the perimeter or else Golden State can preserve their energy on offense.

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