Warning: Do not read too deeply into the first matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets. The Golden State Warriors are flying high, while the Denver Nuggets hold on for their dear life to their Western Conference lead. The Nuggets stole one earlier this season, but that was on a back to back for the Warriors.
Injuries and Suspensions
The Nuggets will be hoping for two key contributors to be cleared for this game. Shooting guard Gary Harris is questionable with a hamstring. For a game as big as this, I would expect him to play. Reserve forward Trey Lyles is also questionable with a wrist injury.
Warriors center Demarcus Cousins has reportedly been throwing down dunks and showing flashes in practice. But, he has not been cleared to play. His health is certainly news worth monitoring for the future.
When the top two seeds in the West meet, there shall not be looking ahead. These teams are only separated by a half game and at this point they are surely taking notice of their potential playoff competition.
The first time the Warriors played Denver they were on a back to back. It was also early in the season and the Warriors had not yet hit their stride. The NBA did them a small favor this time around. The Nuggets are playing their fifth game in eight days. The Warriors will be playing just their fourth.
The total for this game opened at 227.5 and has stayed there as of this writing. Despite the Nuggets decent home defense, the total is appropriate. The Warriors rank first in the league in offensive efficiency on the road. Additionally, they have scored 115 points or more in their last 7 games.
The spread for this game opened at Warriors -2.5 and instantly dropped down to -1. Early bettors may be keen on the first game these teams played, when the Warriors lost at the Pepsi Center this season. There also may be some concerns about the tough spot for the Warriors.
When you have two of the best teams in the league there are few weaknesses to pick at. However, they do have different strengths to compare. As mentioned above the Warriors have highest offensive efficiency on the road. Denver is currently ranked 9th in home defensive efficiency.
Both teams are playing around average paces overall, but the Nuggets have the third slowest home pace. In the past the Nuggets have used the altitude to wear teams out with a fast pace. This year they have turned to a physical and sound defense.
The Warriors defensive rating is still slightly worse than the league average. Come playoff time it should be in the top ten. We should see improvements as the season goes on. The average defensive ratings go hand in hand with with some league average advanced stats.
Both teams are giving up right around the league average in points in the point. The Nuggets are attacking the paint much more on offense though. They average 52 points in the paint per game compared to the Warriors at 41.
There is also a difference in how the teams work on the fast break. The Warriors score a high sky 18.5 points per game. The Nuggets only score 11.8. On defense the Nuggets give up just 12 fast break points per game and the Warriors give up 15.3.
I am going to make plays based off the Warriors recent success. They were already beaten once at the Pepsi Center so they should be focused. I will be taking the locked in Warriors to send a message to the league.
he recent offensive outburst is a strong indicator they are locked in. The Nuggets are no slouches on offense either with a rating of 112. The over and the Warriors team total over are the plays for me.
For player props, Warriors guard Klay Thompson is on a bit of a heater. He has scored 20 or more in four of his last five. I would expect him to have a big game. I will also take the Kevin Durant point total under. His current season average is 28.2, but with Steph and Klay healthy, he is more likely to bring that down to 25 or 26 points per game. In his last nine games he has only scored 28 points or more twice.
Warriors team total over
Klay Thompson points over
Kevin Durant points under