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

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Nuggets finish the second of this back-to-back set with a date against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Both teams, in fact, played on Friday night, so this is a second consecutive game for each of the teams.

Golden State played at home against the Lakers and beat them 113-106, making this a home/home back-to-back for the Warriors. This the second meeting between the two teams. Golden State beat the Nuggets 127-108 in Denver on Nov. 4. That game was the second of a home/home back-to-back for the Nuggets.

The Nuggets enter the game coming off of a big victory at Portland on Friday night. Golden State is playing without its star guard, Stephen Curry, who has missed the last seven games with a sprained right ankle.

What do the Nuggets need to do to give themselves a chance to win? Start with these things…

Get the starters rolling quickly: Back in the Warriors’ win over the Nuggets in November, the starters were swiftly neutralized and never allowed to get on track. No Nuggets starter scored in double figures that night, and they had 34 points on 14-of-33 (42.2 percent) shooting as a collective. The starters were stellar in the Nuggets’ win at Portland on Friday night. They’ll need to have that again to not let the game get away from them too fast.

Get good performances from “fresh” players: Nuggets coach Michael Malone basically played seven players in the game at Portland, so he should have a number of players with fresh legs or something very close to fresh legs to lean on if he needs to. And he plans to. “We will have to get other guys in the game,” Malone said. “(Saturday) night is another challenge and we’ll make sure we get all of our guys on our bench into the game.”

Stick tight to Klay Thompson off of screens: In the time since Stephen Curry has been out, Klay Thompson was had the greenest of lights to shoot as much as he needs to. He’s taken full advantage of the extra opportunity to score by averaging 22.0 points on 18.4 shots per game. He’s making 45.7 percent from the field overall and 42.1 percent from the 3-point line. Much of what he does comes off of screens, so his initial defender must stick tight and not get caught with his head turned watching action away from Thompson, who doesn’t need much room to knock a jump shot down.

INJURY REPORT: Guard Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) is questionable for the game. Forward Paul Millsap (wrist) is out of the game.

Christopher Dempsey: and @chrisadempsey on Twitter