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Game Preview: Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors

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The Nuggets make their first trip to Oakland on Friday night.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup

Denver Nuggets logo

Golden State Warriors
5-0 (3-0 HOME)

vs.

Denver Nuggets
2-3 (2-1 ROAD)

Details

November 6, 2015

Oracle Arena – Oakland, CA

7:30 pm PST

Local TV: CSN Bay Area | Radio: KNBR 680 AM

Blog Buddy: Denver Stiffs

Projected Starters

Stephen Curry

G

Emmanuel Mudiay

Klay Thompson

G

Gary Harris

Harrison Barnes

F

Danilo Galinari

Draymond Green

F

Kenneth Faried

Festus Ezeli

C

Joffrey Lauvergne

Key Injuries

Andrew Bogut – Concussion

Kevon Looney – Out (Hip surgery)

Wilson Chandler — Hip (out)

Jusuf Nurkic — Knee (out)

Joffrey Lauvergne — Back (questionable)

Nikola Jokic — Back (questionable)

The Nuggets head to Oakland for the first time this regular season to start their set of division matchups. The Warriors finish their three-game homestead by hosting a young feisty team in this Denver squad who always play Golden State tight.

Who will win? Who will lose? Let's break down the numbers:

Matching up

Emmanuel Mudiay vs. Stephen Curry

Hey rookie - remember when they told you at the draft that you'd be going up against some of the best players in the world in the NBA? Yeah, time to start the real lessons. Your first job? Chasing Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson around the floor behind intricate screens and motions to keep them off the three-point line. If that's not enough, both Curry and Thompson have improved their ability to get to the line, so make sure to keep your feet and no reaching so you keep out of foul trouble.

After that, your job is to contribute on the offensive end while facing one of the stingiest backcourt defenses in the league. Those passes better be crisp - Curry averages over 2 steals a game. You want to drive to the rim? Festus Ezeli will be waiting for you there. Welcome to the league, slick.

Kenneth Faried vs. Warriors Front Court

The Manimal has never stopped working on the floor, even as the Nugget's record has been less than stellar. You have to give the guy credit - his engine never stops despite a bad franchise with a rebuilding future. He always gives the Warriors fits on the glass, and can single-handedly change the fate of the game if he turns misses into second chances and shuts down Golden State's bigs. Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green will have to continue the same gang rebounding we saw against DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin against the Clippers.

On the flip side, Faried does not extend out amazingly well on defense, leaving Green to extend out for the pick and roll at the top of the key. Look for the Warriors to simply stretch the Nuggets until they break to keep the Nuggets bigs out from the key.

Danilo Gallinari vs. Harrison Barnes

Danilo gets my vote for "guy I wish the Warriors had enough assets to take on in a midseason trade". I want him to stay healthy this season because I love his game and he scares me when he shoots the ball. I remember when he was drafted by the Knicks and everyone laughed. Then, as he slowly developed, he found himself as the trade piece that would net the Knicks Melo, so I believe that worked out for all parties involved.

Barnes needs to shake off being bodied up by Jamal Crawford twice on Wednesday (not a typo) and embarrassed in his one-on-one game. Sure, he hit some great shots late in the game to get the team back into it. But that's what he is supposed to do - be a spot up shooter. Do you want to earn that huge extension? Keep pressing the basket and for the love of God protect the ball buddy. If Barnes can't keep up with Gallo, picture him quickly on the bench in favor of Iggy who will have no problem taking his minutes and production.

Last Time Out

The Warriors took the 2014/2015 season series 2-1, with the loss coming from a "rest em" game late in the season in Denver. Seriously - what a horrible game. Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes were the only starters to get playing time, and Justin Holiday was your lead scorer. The best game of the season series for the Warriors? A 43-point killing at Oracle in January.

It's easy to say with the new season these two teams are moving in different directions. The Warriors are coming off a huge victory against the Clippers and now stand in the prime position of a let down game. This is the explicit definition of a letdown game in fact - overlooking a 'secondary' opponent after beating a rival finishing up a confident homestead. This is a great challenge for Luke Walton in his first year. He must motivate this group of veterans back into playing another solid 48 minutes and hopefully putting away the Nuggets quickly and efficiently without giving them the confidence to keep it close.

The good news is that the Nuggets have not looked particularly good to start their season. Ranked in the bottom half in the league in all major offensive and defensive categories, they are still looking to find their consistency and effort level. Sure, there had a huge opening night victory in Houston where they took down the Rockets by twenty (not a typo). But that was the Rockets sans-Dwight Howard and sans-confidence. They then get mopped up by the Timberwolves and trounced by the Thunder by 20. It is the calling card of a young team which can surprise you on nights against good teams, but yet then look horrible against bad teams. A familiar face in Mike Malone has his squad coming together, but with so many new faces to the cast, this team will be the product of a long season rather than how they appear now.

My Take

This game should be another highlight reel for the Warriors. They are in full world-beater mode, and are getting contributions from up and down the roster. I am picturing a down night for Stephen Curry though. Why you ask? Because he will be sitting on the bench by the fourth quarter. Call it confidence, but I just don't think these Nuggets are ready to keep up with the champs and the MVP for a full game. I am looking forward to the bench to continue to get stronger after struggling in the second half against the Clippers. The bench mob cannot become bad jump shooters and forget the offensive flow.

My guess: Warriors take this one 117-89 and Ian Clark & crew see plenty of 4th quarter play.

Spread: Warriors -16.5

Over/Under: 214.5

Odds via BetOnline.