The Golden State Warriors — in the midst of a battle to hold on to an outright playoff spot — may have caught themselves a bit of a break.
The Denver Nuggets have officially ruled out reigning two-time MVP and MVP candidate Nikola Jokić tonight against the Warriors.
Nikola Jokic officially ruled out for the Nuggets tonight against the Warriors.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 2, 2023
Jokić sat out the last two games due to right calf tightness, and is set to miss his third straight game.
Suffice to say, the first-place Nuggets have been considerably better with Jokić playing. In 2,273 minutes of him on the floor, they’ve outscored opponents by a whopping 13.3 points per 100 possessions, per PBP Stats. That is overwhelmingly more than the Boston Celtics’ league-leading point differential of 6.7 points per 100 possessions.
However, in 1,440 minutes of Jokić on the bench or sidelined, the Nuggets have been outscored by an equally whopping 12.2 points per 100 possessions — worse than the San Antonio Spurs’ league-worst point differential.
Furthermore, the Nuggets go from virtually the best offense in the league with Jokić on the floor (126.7 offensive rating) to the worst with him not playing (104.7 offensive rating).
It’s no surprise that without the Nuggets’ best player — who also happens to be one of the league’s best players (if not the best) — fall apart without him. This is a golden opportunity for the Warriors to snatch a win and secure their place in the West, where they are currently fifth.
The caveat? They’re on the road, where they have a 9-29 record.