Preview: Nuggets and Warriors battle for the second time in four nights

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Nuggets complete the season sweep of Golden State tonight?

The Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors will face each other for the final time this season. Denver is 3-0 against the Warriors while averaging 112 points per meeting. The Nuggets compiled 131 points against the Warriors on Monday, but that was without most of their starters as Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins are expected to face Denver tonight. This is a crucial game in the Western Conference standings because the Nuggets are tied with the 5th seeded Mavericks, and the Jazz are only 2.5 games back of the Warriors.

While the Nuggets have been playing scorching hot basketball, the same can not be said about the Warriors. Denver has won 10 of their last 11 games, while Golden State has lost 9 of their last 12. They appear to be in a slump right now, but with their starters expected to return along with their competitiveness to prevent being swept, the Warriors should bring all their effort and intensity to Ball Arena tonight.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (40-26, 20-11 home) vs Golden State Warriors (44-22, 17-15 away)

When: 8:00 PM MT

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: TNT, NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Expected Starting Lineups:

GS: PG Steph Curry, SG Moses Moody, SF Klay Thompson, PF Andrew Wiggins, C Kevon Looney

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Austin Rivers, SF Davon Reed, PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Will Barton (out), Bones Hyland (day to day), Jeff Green (day to day), Vlatko Cancar (out), Draymond Green (out), Otto Porter Jr. (out), Gary Payton III (out), Andre Iguodala (out)

Three Keys

Expect intensity

As I said before, this Warrior team has been struggling lately along with the fact they are 0-3 against Denver this season. They remember the buzzer-beater Monte hit against them before the break as well, if not better, than we do, so expect them to bring all they have tonight. Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins are as talented a threesome as we have in the NBA, so I expect them to be aggressive early and often. That being said, the Nuggets might have to endure an early onslaught, but maintain their way of basketball, and not try to beat the Warriors at their own game.

The battle behind the arc

Golden State has been one of the best three-point shooting teams for years, and although it is not necessary for the Nuggets to hit 15+ threes to win this game, it would be so much easier if they did. The last time the two faced off, Moody and Poole combined for 13 threes while the Nuggets could only hit 10 as a team. With their starters returning, I expect multiple Warriors to be successful from behind the arc. The Nuggets do not need to match their production as I would like to see them dominate the paint, but they need to capitalize on the open looks.

Finish

This is the last time during the regular season, the Nuggets can put a stamp on this team and sweep the series. If the Nuggets are able to take four from an elite Western Conference team, that bodes very well for their confidence moving into the playoffs and throughout the rest of the regular season. The Warriors have been a top ten offensive and defensive team all season, so it will be anything but easy yet the rewards will be satisfying. If the Nuggets were to win tonight, they would be 0.5 games above the 5th seeded Mavericks, and just one game behind the 4th seeded Jazz.

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