How to watch
Date: Saturday, December 23, 2017
Time: 5:30pm PST
Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA
TV: NBCSN Bay Area
Radio: 95.7 THE GAME
Last updated 12/23/17
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Zaza Pachulia, Shaun Livingston (all out)
Nuggets: Paul Millsap (wrist) Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) (all out)
The ultimate trap game is upon us. The Golden State Warriors are playing their fourth game of the week and are winners of their last 11. Since Steph Curry’s injury, the Warriors are undefeated with a nine-point average margin of victory. The Dubs have been awesome, but without Steph Curry, we are watching a different type of basketball and it’s not as fun.
The Nuggets are without Paul Millsap and Emmanuel Mudiay, who are out with injuries. Gary Harris returned last night from an elbow injury to provide a 17-point boost to beat Portland. Without Mudiay, the Nuggets lack depth at point guard, leaving second-year player Jamal Murray to run the offense. Murray’s a solid option with 1.8 win-shares thus far, but he has played over 35 minutes in three of Denver’s last five games. He’ll carry a heavy offensive load going into tonight’s game and Draymond Green, Patrick McCaw and Quinn Cook are responsible for keeping him uncomfortable on the ball.
You gotta be Jokicing me
Nikola Jokic is Denver’s best player and it’s not particularly close. He’s averaging over 15 points a game, 10.4 boards and 4.4 assists in only in 29.3 minutes a game. In addition, Jokic will likely play up to the challenge the Warriors present. Rather than stopping Jokic from scoring, it might be more important if the Dubs can stop him from dishing. Clogging the lanes and limiting Jokic as a facilitator might be the Warriors’ best shot at limiting his impact.
Last night, Jordan Bell had a career game against the Lakers. Expecting him to repeat that performance is not fair to him, but we should watch for smart play from Bell. Running back on defense, avoiding silly fouls and finding open shots are crucial as he develops consistency in the league. He and Kevin Durant will have their hands full with Jokic.
The Draymond boost
Draymond is an irreplaceable cog in the Warriors’ machine, and with Curry out, we should hope he can regain offensive consistency after his injury. While stats point to the fact he’s having an efficient offensive season, his confidence from behind the arc has waned. His three-point percentage this season is a pedestrian 33%.
Green will never be a great shooter, but the eye test is pretty clear this season. He’s not making on-ball decisions as confidently as past years. Against a weak defensive team like Denver, let’s hope Draymond can begin cultivating his offensive confidence through the new year.
The Warriors should win tonight, but the second game of a back-to-back before Christmas Day is the trappiest of trap games and could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. Enjoy!