Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors
Tonight will be a battle for the Western Conference top seed, as the Denver Nuggets (43-21) travel to Oracle Arena to take on the Golden State Warriors (44-20). These teams have already played twice this season in Denver with each team picking up a win. Their fourth and final showdown will be at Oracle on April 2, but tonight may be Denver’s most important game of the season. That’s because if they’re able to beat Golden State, they’d share the number one seed in the West together along with a 44-21 record.
What’s interesting tonight is that even though both of these teams have the Western Conference-best records, they’ve both lost 3 out of their last 4 games. Denver beat the struggling Lakers 115-99 on Wednesday night, while the Warriors got humiliated by the Celtics at home by the score of 95-128 on Tuesday. Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and Kevin Looney will all be game-time decisions as to whether they play or not for Golden State.
With both of these teams are looking to get back to winning consistently, I would expect a tightly contested, physical game that features two motivated defenses. Especially with the Western Conference throne being in jeopardy for the Dubs.
Time: 10:30 pm ET
Arena: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
The Nuggets have been one of the most balanced teams in the NBA this season. Per 100 possessions, they’re fifth best in the NBA in offensive efficiency and are 11th in defensive efficiency. The Milwaukee Bucks are the only team to be ahead of the Nuggets in both categories, and they have the NBA’s best record.
Offensively, The Nuggets’ strength is their unique system in which Nikola Jokic is the floor general surrounded by a bunch of shooters. The system is unique because Jokic is a center that’s tied for fifth in the NBA with 7.7 assists per game, which is by far the highest average among centers. Jokic is also a very complete big that can operate off the dribble and out of the post at a very high level, while still being able to knock down a couple of shots. This translates to a huge offensive impact for him as his real offensive plus-minus of 4.7, ranks fifth in the NBA.
Another strength for the Denver is their 3-point shooting. Their 35.9 three-point percentage currently ranks 10th in the NBA, and all eight of their top per-minute contributors are knocking down at least 0.8 3s per game. Every team that’s made the Finals since 2009-10 has finished the season in the top 12 in 3-point percentage. Unfortunately for Denver, many of those teams happen to be recent Golden State Warriors.
Golden State Warriors Starting Lineup
Tuesday night’s loss against Boston marked Steve Kerr’s worse home loss as Warriors head coach. However, what’s worse for Golden State is that they could lose sole possession of the Western Conference top seed with a loss tonight, so I expect them to give one of their best complete team efforts of the season. Steve Kerr said he expects Klay Thompson to play tonight after missing Wednesday night. Thompson injured his knee in last week’s loss to the Magic and underwent an MRI Monday that revealed no damage.
Demarcus Cousins has topped twenty points and twenty-nine minutes in three of his last four games and appears to be finding his stride at the perfect time. Pre-Achilles injury, it seemed that most accepted Cousins as the best center in the NBA, but since then Jokic and even Joel Embiid have battled for that title. However, Cousins is still very formidable, and I would expect him to use his strength advantage when matching up against Jokic tonight. However, expect Jokic to return the favor by testing Cousin’s lateral quickness by putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the hole.
Of course, look for Durant and Curry to be the closers if the game’s tight in the 4th quarter.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Odds
The Golden State Warriors are favored by 6.5 points tonight. They are 23-9 at Oracle on the season and are 43-16 when favored. For as good as the Nuggets have been at the Pepsi Center this season, they have a road record of 16-15 and are 8-9 when underdogs.
The over/under is 235.5 points and Denver is -240 on the moneyline. The money-line opened up at -255 and but has been decreasing since
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