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Warriors vs Nuggets preview: Golden State tries to stay focused after an emotional win

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Coming off of Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City and in advance of the All-Star break, will the Warriors be ready for a matchup with a short-handed Nuggets team? If Golden State comes out sharp, we could get an extended look at newly-signed Briante Weber in a blowout.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors
KD’s ready to move on to Denver
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (46-8) vs. Denver Nuggets (24-30)

How to watch

Date: Monday, February 13, 2017

Time: 6:00pm PST

Location: Pepsi Center — Denver, CO

TV: CSN Bay Area

Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Injury report

Last updated 5:00pm on 2/12/17

Warriors: David West - out; Zaza Pachulia - out

Nuggets: Mason Plumlee - out; Danilo Gallinari - out; Kenneth Faried - out; Emmanuel Mudiay - questionable; Wilson Chandler - probable

Moving on after an emotional win in Oklahoma City

After crushing the Thunder on Saturday and vanquishing the season’s demons against the Grizzlies on Friday, let’s see what the Warriors have in the gas tank for a short-handed Nuggets team tonight. If there’s anything that gives Denver a chance in this one, it’s the potential for Golden State to relax after a charged victory in front of a hostile crowd in Oklahoma City.

And it’d be easy to let up on the intensity tonight! The entire team rallied around Kevin Durant like family to make sure they took care of their guy on Saturday. That bond compelled each player to remain focused in getting a win that meant so much to Durant. With the relief of that game over, there’s nothing anywhere remotely close to Durant’s return to OKC that could get the Dubs up for this one. And with the All-Star break approaching, players’ minds may be turning elsewhere.

If Golden State is looking for motivation, they could find it in the fact that Denver could be a first round matchup in the playoffs. The Nuggets could gain some confidence if they managed to take a game from the Warriors in the regular season, so a win tonight is a little more meaningful than other games against sub-.500 teams.

And if Golden State is on its game tonight, the tale of the tape isn’t good for Denver. The Warriors are 2-0 against the Nuggets so far this season, with the first game a lop-sided affair and the second a closer, eight point victory featuring a traditional triple-double from Draymond Green.

Denver will be missing some bigs

In those two prior matchups, center Jusuf Nurkic shot an impressive 10-for-13 from the field in 38 minutes for the Nuggets. However, the Nuggets just traded Nurkic to the Portland Trailblazers for center Mason Plumlee, who is not expected to play this evening. That’s a big hole for Denver to fill.

Meanwhile, forward Danilo Gallinari usually plays very well against the Dubs, but he won’t be playing tonight due to a groin injury (preach, Sam Malone). Given Denver’s lack of usual size and other injuries, it’s hard to see the Nuggets challenging the Warriors in this one. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for the ailing Nuggets!

Let’s see the bench squad get some run

In what’s likely to be a blowout, we may get a chance to see what newly-signed Briante Weber can do. Based on his smile and exuberance on the bench, he’s clearly having a blast with the team and is anxious to contribute. We may get a glimpse of his vaunted defense tonight as he seeks a permanent role with the team.

It’s also been great to see recent headband convert James Michael McAdoo playing well lately in the absence of Zaza Pachulia and David West. He’s cutting to the basket well and defending decently, keeping those arms straight up on driving defenders so as to avoid fouling. Hopefully tonight will be an opportunity for McAdoo to continue gaining valuable experience along with the rest of the bench mob in a decisive victory.