Game Preview: Golden State Matchup Rounds Out Tough Stretch of Game for Nuggets

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

How far have the Nuggets come in capturing the attention of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors? Consider this quote from Warriors star Kevin Durant, speaking to ESPN after his team’s win over Sacramento on Friday night.

“We were definitely sloppy,” Durant said. “Coach got on us a bit about that. So, we’ve got to correct that (Saturday) against Denver. If we do that against them, we’re going to lose. So, we’ve got to be better at that.”

If the course of this season series – which ends tonight in Denver – has taught the Warriors anything, it’s that the Nuggets matchup with them as well as almost any team in the league. Golden State has won two of the three games thus far, but the Nuggets fired a warning shot with a 15-point victory on the Warriors’ home court in December and have been in all three contests.

And all of that leads to this. Tonight is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. For the Warriors, this is the second of a back-to-back which started in Sacramento on Friday night. For the Nuggets, this is the last of a brutal four-game stretch that also saw them face Boston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

What does Nuggets coach Michael Malone see as the key items?

“Three-point line, turnovers and just being disciplined,” he said. “You can go over plays…but they just play the game. So, we went over concepts (in shootaround), how to guard certain things and certain types of actions we’re going to see, regardless of the play call.

“So, hopefully our guys will have great game plan discipline as well as personnel discipline tonight.”

Neither team has been whole for either of the last two meetings, but the Warriors are expected to have their full complement of players available tonight – if none are resting. Durant did not play against the Nuggets in the last meeting, and Stephen Curry missed the Nuggets-Warriors game prior to that.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets are more injured than in the previous matchup. Mason Plumlee is out of the contest with a calf injury. Paul Millsap continues to be out after wrist surgery. Yet the Nuggets are 20-7 at home, one of the best home teams in the NBA, and are coming off of a big win over the Thunder on Thursday night.

“It’s been pretty tough, these last few games,” Nuggets guard Gary Harris said. “But it’s just the hand we were dealt, so just got to go out there, try to finish strong tonight against Golden State and continue to get as many wins as possible because we have another tough stretch in March with the 15-day road trip.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.