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Warriors vs. Nuggets Preview: On the road again

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Can the Dubs keep Nikola Jokić at bay?

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Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are back on the road for the first time since 2020, and they’ve got a pretty brutal road trip. Though it’s not as brutal as it initially looked, as the league has postponed Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

So it’s just a two game road trip. But it’s a tough one. It ends on Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers, and it starts tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (6-5) vs. Denver Nuggets (5-6)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

TV: TNT (available through fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman
Nuggets: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokić

Last results:

Warriors: Lost to the Pacers 104-95 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Nuggets: Lost to the Nets 122-116 — 3-2 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass, prior to Wednesday’s games):

Warriors: 107.3 offense (23rd), 110.5 defense (17th), -3.2 net (21st)
Nuggets: 117.4 offense (3rd), 114.3 defense (26th), +3.1 net (10th)

The story

Golden State has to shake off a disappointing loss. They’re 6-5, even though they feel like they should be 7-4, and they still have a lot to prove.

Don’t let Denver’s losing record fool you. They’re still part of the West’s elite, even if Michael Porter Jr. won’t be playing in this game.

For the Warriors, Denver’s high-octane offense and low-octane defense both present interesting challenges. Can the Dubs offense, stifled the last two games by the middle school defensive schemes that Steph Curry called “janky,” finally find some rhythm against a lackluster Denver D? And can Golden State’s defense, which is really starting to find its groove, succeed against one of the best offenses in the league?

Those answers will determine the outcome of the game.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins has been mighty impressive in the last few games. He’s been scoring with efficiency, but also having offensive restraint — he clearly understands he’s not the team’s offensive focal point, which never seemed like the case in Minnesota. He’s shooting threes at a very nice rate (39.3%), and helping lead a strong second unit.

But above all, his defensive effort has been sensational. He’s looked like a real weapon on that end of the court, and the Warriors will need that to keep being the case against a top tier offense.

Nugget to watch: Nikola Jokić.

The term “video game numbers” gets thrown around a bit too much when describing NBA players, but ... honestly, what else are we supposed to say about the Nuggets’ center? He’s averaging 24.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 10.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game per game, while shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc with a 66.3% true-shooting percentage.

It’s unreal.

Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Paul Millsap

Millsap is underrated, but only averaging 10.8 points per game. Green has been playing ferocious defense of late (and always, really), but thrives when he’s able to be a little bit of a rover. Can Green keep providing that excellent help defense, while also keeping Millsap at bay? Will he get matched up against Jokić a fair bit? Can he bang on the boards?

Keys to victory

• Don’t let any Curry-centric defensive schemes get Curry out of rhythm, or get the rest of the team out of rhythm

• Don’t let Jamal Murray explode for a huge scoring night

• Establish an offensive rhythm in the first quarter

• Win the bench battle

Let’s go Dubs. Stay above .500, please.