Nuggets vs. Warriors Betting Preview: Will DenverBounce Back in the Bay?

Action Network analyst Joe Dellera breaks down Friday's NBA matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors and shares his best bet.

Nuggets vs. Warriors Odds

Nuggets Odds +198
Warriors Odds -240
Over/Under 229
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Warriors continued to look like Champions when they made quick work of the Los Angeles Lakers after their Ring Ceremony while the Denver Nuggets lost to checks notes the UTAH JAZZ?!

Will the Nuggets right the ship, or will the Warriors dispatch of the Nuggets to start the season 2-0? Let’s break it down.

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Can Jokic, MPJ and Gordon Lead the Nuggets to an Upset?

The Denver Nuggets are considered a rising title contender this year with the recent acquisitions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ish Smith and Bruce Brown coupled with the return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. This team has all of the tools to contend, but can they gel this early in the season?

One important injury note – Murray was on a hard minutes restriction in Game 1; tonight is the first game of a back-to-back with Saturday being the team’s home opener. I would not be surprised to see Murray miss this contest so he can play in Denver the following day.

Last season, the Nuggets took three of four from the Warriors in the regular season, but both of these teams have been restructured between new acquisitions and players returning from injury.

One combination that was lethal for Denver two seasons ago featured lineups with Nikola Jokic, Murray, MPJ, and Aaron Gordon. Those lineups were +17.1 points per 100 possessions with an incredible offensive output of 127.2 points per 100, per Cleaning the Glass.

I have my reservations about Murray’s availability in this game, but that is something the other three are comfortable with given his absence all last season. In 2021-2022, the Nuggets were +12.5 points per 100 with Jokic, Gordon, and MPJ on the floor – that trio is dynamite.

Even if Murray can’t go, the addition of Ish Smith is significant as he’s an upgrade on Facu Campazzo, and although Bones Hyland struggled in 16 minutes of action against the Jazz, I expect him to put together a better showing against the Warriors.

The Warriors Look Untoppable

The Warriors destroyed the Lakers in the first game of the season behind a dominant third-quarter performance. Now, they take on the Denver Nuggets.

The Warriors allegedly are not fully “conditioned” for the regular season, and Steve Kerr elected to run a 12-man rotation with only Stephen Curry playing more than 30 minutes (33). Of the starters, Klay Thompson managed just 20 minutes and Looney just 21. If the Warriors limit everyone besides Curry, this absolutely impacts their rotations and ability to compete to their maximum ability.

When they played the Lakers, the starters dominated; however, the bench depth struggled. Jordan Poole led the bench in Box +/-, and his was a +1 compared to Klay’s +11, which was the worst among all starters. At this point, the Nuggets are a much more difficult test than the Lakers, and if the Warriors continue to ramp up their starters, it will put them at a rotational disadvantage.

Nuggets-Warriors Pick

The Nuggets are at a bit of a travel and rest disadvantage here, but that does not dissuade me in this spot considering the Warriors are voluntarily keeping their best players off the floor due to conditioning.

Since 2005, it’s been profitable to back teams that started the season with a loss against teams who won their first game – those teams are 43-33-1 ATS, with road teams being 15-10-1 ATS over that same stretch, per our ActionLabs Database. This is a match for the Nuggets.

I don’t believe in blindly following trends; rather, I think they are a piece of the analysis to be coupled with a handicap. Here, I favor the Nuggets due to their depth, rotations, and Jokic’s relative dominance against them over the last three seasons with averages of 24.4 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.2 assists across nine games.

I’ll grab the points with Denver.

Pick: Nuggets +6 (DraftKings)