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Game Preview: What to Watch For in the Nuggets Game at Golden State

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

OAKLAND, Calif. – The last time the Nuggets were at Oracle Arena, on Dec. 23, they opened a lot of eyes in an impressive victory. They held the Warriors to 81 points, forced them into a 3-of-27 performance from the 3-point line, and, in the process of it all, snapped the Warriors’ 11-game winning streak.

Suffice to say Golden State will be ready for the Nuggets this time around.

That means the Nuggets will have weather an early energy storm from a Warriors team that is looking for a little revenge. Do that successfully, and the Nuggets can settle into the game and try and defend their way to giving themselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

“Tonight is going to be paramount for us to not beat ourselves (with turnovers),” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Steph Curry is back. He’s playing at a ridiculously high rate.”

How do the Nuggets pull off a second victory in Oakland? Start with these things…

Star switch: The Nuggets did not face an injured Stephen Curry in the last meeting against the Warriors, but he’s back tonight. Conversely, Kevin Durant may not play in the game due to a calf injury. That would make Curry the focal point, and that means the Nuggets need to shift the defense out more to contest the many 3-point attempts Curry will put up. And it is a lot. Since returning to action on Dec. 30, Curry has averaged 13 3-point attempts per game. He’s averaged 19.3 shot attempts overall in that span, which means the 3-point line is accounting for 67 percent of his total attempts.

Get Jokić on track: Nikola Jokić, in the last two games, has had 10 assists in one and 10 rebounds in the other, but scoring the ball has been an issue for Nuggets star center. He’s just 6-of-23 in the last two games combined. The Nuggets need his point production in hostile road environments like Oracle Arena.

Stop the turnover faucet: The Nuggets bid to win at Sacramento last Saturday was derailed by season highs in turnovers (26) and points off of turnovers (40). “Think about this, no disrespect to Sacramento, we were down five at halftime and we played awful,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Late in the game it’s 94-89 and we’re at the foul line and we’d played awful. We had no business being in that game. Forty points off of turnovers? That’s like Haley’s Comet. That’s really bad. I think our players understand it, especially against who we are playing tonight.”

INJURY REPORT: Paul Millsap (wrist) is out of tonight’s game against the Warriors.

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