Preview: Denver Nuggets face Golden State Warriors to complete back-to-back

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

Luckily for the Denver Nuggets, they won’t have much time to dwell on Sunday’s streak-ending loss to the Boston Celtics.

A game that started off with such promise saw Boston close on a 40-8 run to secure a 105-87 victory. Although Nikola Jokić had yet another triple-double (17 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds), Denver struggled offensively, scoring a season-low 87 points on 36.4 percent shooting from the field.

MORE: Takeaways from loss to Celtics

Denver (34-19) faces a quick turnaround as a road game against the Golden State Warriors looms Monday night.

The Warriors (25-28) have struggled as of late, going just 3-7 over their last 10 games. An injury to Stephen Curry played a key role in those struggles, as Golden State is very reliant on the two-time MVP to help drive offense.

However, despite Curry’s brilliance on that end of the floor, it has been defense that has propelled the Warriors this season, as they rank 10th in defensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass.

Denver won the first meeting between these two teams 114-104 back on January 14.

Projected starters: Facundo Campazzo, Will Barton III, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokić

TUNE-IN: 8 p.m. MT, ESPN and Altitude TV, 92.5FM

Key matchup: Michael Porter Jr. vs. Andrew Wiggins

These two wings certainly know how to get buckets.

With James Wiseman out for Monday’s contest and Kelly Oubre Jr. potentially missing this game as well, the Warriors will look to Wiggins to provide more offense, which he has been doing as of late. Over his last 10 games, Wiggins is averaging 19.3 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc.

However, those numbers actually pale in comparison to Porter Jr.’s recent run of play. Prior to Sunday's loss to Bosotn, Denver’s dynamic forward has averaged 20.9 points per game on 58.5 percent shooting from the field and a staggering 56 percent from downtown over his previous 10 games. Look for these two forwards to go at one another Monday night.

Dominate on the glass

Simply put, the Warriors have not been a good rebounding team this season.

Ranking 30th in offensive rebound percentage and 24th in opponent offensive rebound percentage, Golden State is certainly vulnerable on the glass, which should be music to Denver’s ears.

The Nuggets are one of the premier offensive rebounding teams in the league this season, ranking second in offensive rebound percentage (29 percent). On the other end of the floor, Denver has been an above-average defensive rebounding team so far this season.

In that first meeting back in January, Denver won the rebounding battle 50-43, which included doubling up the Warriors on the offensive glass 10-5. If the Nuggets can repeat that rebounding performance Monday, they’ll have a good chance at winning on the second night of a back-to-back.

Defend the 3-point line

When you have Steph Curry on your team, the 3-pointer is going to be a key part of your offensive attack.

That has been the case for Golden State this season once again, as the Warriors rank eighth in the frequency of shot attempts coming from beyond the arc at 38.5 percent. Although Golden State hasn’t been a truly elite 3-point shooting team this season (36.9 percent, which ranks 15th in the league), Denver must be focused on limiting attempts from downtown.

38 percent of opponent shot attempts have come from beyond the arc against the Nuggets this season, which places Denver 22nd in that aspect defensively. Although teams haven’t shot lights out on those shots against the Nuggets this season (36.8 percent, slightly below league average), you don’t want to give up quality looks to a team led by Stephen Curry.

All numbers as of Sunday, April 11.

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