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Warriors at Nuggets Preview: Much McAdoo About Nuggets

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The Denver Nuggets have a new-look team in store for the Warriors Friday night, as interim head coach Melvin Hunt has the Nuggets feisty and dangerous once again. I broke out the TRIPLE PUN just for this special occasion.

"He reminds me of Anthony Davis, with better eyebrows." - me, at about midnight the other weekend.
"He reminds me of Anthony Davis, with better eyebrows." - me, at about midnight the other weekend.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (51-12) vs. Denver Nuggets (24-41)

Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado

6:00 p.m. PST

Radio: KNBR 680 AM | TV: CSN Bay Area

Buddy Blog: Denver Stiffs

Friday evening, the Golden State Warriors make a rare March road trip to Denver, Colorado to face the Nuggets. And when they arrive, the Dubs will face off against a very, very different looking Nugs squad.

Since we last saw the rich-and-creamy-nuggets on January 19, they've parted ways with veterans Aaron Afflalo, JaVale McGee and Alonzo Gee. Under the leadership of then-head coach Brian Shaw, the struggling team cratered.

By March 3, the Nuggets were slumming through a brutal six weeks, having lost 19 of 21 games. That's bad. But then the Nuggets players were captured in the huddle, literally counting down the days until the season was over, and that proved to be the last straw. Head coach Brian Shaw was fired the next day.

Since turning over coaching duties to interim man Melvin Hunt, basketball life has returned to the Rocky Mountain state. Denver is 4-2 since then, with a healthy 106.3 points per game average (compare that to their dead-average season's mark of 100.0 per night. They've notched impressive wins over Milwaulkee and Atlanta in that timeframe, with their losses coming to Houston, and at San Antonio.

George Karl is long gone, but Hunt must've taken notes. In his short tenure, the Nuggets have taken advantage of their entire bench, regularly getting significant minutes out of a twelve-deep rotation, and positive contributions from a different handful of players every night.

Golden State is riding high at 51-12, seemingly on its way to setting a new franchise high water mark of 60 wins in a season. But while some good teams with a playoff-cushion are easing up for the stretch run (cough-Grizzlies-cough), it's the team with nothing to play for that will surprise. Denver can match Golden State's frenetic pace with Ty Lawson pushing the point. With an athletic and diverse front line, and breakout sixth man Will Barton, Golden State could be in for a very competitive game. Especially with Denver coming off of its best performance of the year -- a decisive victory over the powerhouse Atlanta Hawks.

Will Barton: A Tale of Two Seasons (Per-36 minutes numbers)

Portland (30 games)

10.0 points

4.1 rebounds

.422 TS%

8.3 PER

Denver (11 games)

18.2 points

5.8 rebounds

.562 TS%

17.7 PER

Per Basketball-reference.com

It is tough to read too deeply into the statistics tea leaves when predicting an outcome. The Nuggets still don't have any good individual defenders on the roster, and the starting backcourt is well below average on the defensive side (FYI: that bodes well for the team starting the Splash Brothers). But as Dubs fans learned less than a year ago, NBA coaches really can make a huge difference. And too often, one cannot appreciate that difference until that coach is gone.

Right now, Denver fans are doing a some long overdue appreciating. They haven't stopped in more than a week. Here's hoping the Warriors can quiet that down for at least one more Rocky Mountain night.