|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Golden State Warriors are falling down the standings and are now faced with a red-hot Denver Nuggets team. Can Stephen Curry hold off Nikola Jokic in this prime-time matchup?
Golden State Warriors In Slump
The Warriors head to Denver for the second time this week … depending on who you are that is. The Warriors dropped their makeup game to the Nuggets when they elected to leave Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins at home in some sort of protest against the rescheduling of the makeup game.
Now, those three received a little extra rest and will be ready for this game. However, the Warriors will be without Gary Payton II, Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Draymond Green — although Green should return soon.
Here’s the issue for the Warriors. The Splash Bros have looked like they would have trouble shooting a basketball into the ocean lately. Since the All-Star break, Curry and Thompson are shooting just 33.3% and 30.8% from three-point range, respectively. However, given their pedigree, they can erupt at any time and change the course of a game.
During this slump, the Warriors have fallen in the standings and they are just 2-5 over the last two weeks. Despite this shooting slump, their offense has not been the big issue, rather, it’s the team’s defense. The Warriors are allowing 116.7 points per 100 possessions — good for 20th in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. This is a sharp downturn from their full-season number of just 106.9 points per 100 possessions allowed. The concern is that it cannot be attributed to shooting variance. The Warriors are allowing opponents to shoot 72.7% from the rim and 38.1% from three-point range over the past two weeks. It’s nearly impossible to give up percentages like that and expect to contend on a nightly basis.
Denver Nuggets On a Roll
The Nuggets have been on fire since the All-Star break. They’re 7-1 with an impressive come-from-behind win against the New Orleans Pelicans. Over this stretch, the Nuggets have the second-best point differential in the league (+12.0), the seventh-best offense and the third-best defense. While the majority of the teams they played out of the break were not necessarily contenders, they can only play who is in front of them and they generally took care of business.
Jokic has been downright impressive, and — although it’s generally a three-man race for the MVP — I feel Jokic has a very strong case to bring the hardware back for a second consecutive year. Jokic has excelled against the Warriors this season with averages of 29.7 points, 17.0 rebounds and 8.7 assists in three games. The Warriors just do not have the defensive size or presence to stop Jokic and he takes full advantage.
In this matchup, the Nuggets must do a better job of stopping the Warriors’ half court offense. The Nuggets’ weak point defensively is their below-average half court defense, specifically while the Warriors are ninth in points per 100 plays. But considering the Warriors’ recent shooting woes and the continued absence of Draymond Green, this might be a bit easier than normal.
This is going to be an excellent and exciting matchup on national television. The Nuggets have taken care of business since the All-Star break and even though this is their second game in as many days, they are undervalued in this matchup.
The Warriors have struggled mightily — I’m surprised this game did not open closer to a pick’em or even Warriors -1.5. Instead, the Nuggets were getting 4 points initially. This has already moved to Nuggets +3.5 — I’d still take this value down to +2.5 (check real-time NBA odds here).
Denver has taken three in a row and four of the last six games against Golden State over the last two seasons. Denver has been the better team since the break and is on the rise. Even though the Nuggets have a rest disadvantage, they are a force to be reckoned with as long as they have Jokic.
I’ll back Denver with the points and I believe they can win this game outright.
Pick: Nuggets +3.5 | Bet to: +2.5