Woof. This is a tough schedule to look at. Outside of our Game of the Night, Clippers/Mavs could be fun? *Remembers no Chris Paul* Sigh. Charlotte and Philadelphia gives us Kemba Walker vs. Michael Carter-Williams (R.I.P Big East), and Cleveland/Portland, only because the last time we saw these two teams matchup, we saw Damian Lillard hit a game-winner, while Kyrie Irving danced with him in an explosive battle that went to overtime. Maybe those three games could be fun, but maybe they could be three really bad games. I have zero clue. This might be an awful night for games.
Regardless, the Game of the night is the Denver Nuggets against the Golden State Warriors. This matchup intrigues me because I feel like I don’t know what these teams are. The Nuggets have been up and down for most of the season, while the Warriors seem like a title contender, but I’m not sure. For all we know, this could be a first round playoff matchup. The Nuggets have the talent to make a run, and I don’t see a top four seed in the West out of reach for Golden State. Most likely, we’ll be looking at the Warriors in the playoffs, while the Nuggets are fighting with Minnesota for that eighth and final seed in the West.
The Nuggets have dealt with numerous winning and losing steaks this season, highlighted by a five-game winning streak, after a eight-game losing streak. They aren’t a great defense (middle of the pack at 14th overall with a 102.9 defensive efficiency, per NBA Media Stats), but have a big lug who can protect the rim in Timofey Mozgov. Ty Lawson doubles as the team’s best scorer and distributor, while the supporting cast fill in blanks, while providing nightly mismatches, thanks to their array of skills, combined with their heights (ranging from 6-5 to 6-9). The offense overall is good (11th in the league in offensive efficiency), and if the Nuggets do make the playoffs, it will be on the back of Ty Lawson’s offensive charge, Mozgov’s defense and variant rim protection, and nightly contribution from Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Randy Foye, and eventually, a returning Danilo Gallinari.
The Warriors are good. The five man lineup of Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Lee-Bogut is an excellent lineup (20.6 net rating, plus a respectable 97.1 defensive efficiency rating in 459 minutes), and The duo of Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green allow the Warriors to play a bit of roulette with their power forward position. Still, I hesitate to put them in the category of championship contender because of that guard bench depth (They added Jordan Crawford from Boston earlier today, so we’ll see how he fits). While this team got a taste of the playoffs last season, and Iguodala has played in May numerous times, I’m still curious to see them in the playoffs. Honestly, I think the Warriors can beat any team in the West, but I also feel like the wrong first round matchup could knock them out. The Warriors are 3rd in defensive efficiency (really good), 14th in offensive efficiency (blah), but I would like to watch them more, as the season goes on, especially how they match up against other Western Conference contenders.
The Pick: I’m going with the Warriors. They’re just the better team, and I believe this game is in Oracle Arena. Warriors 106, Nuggets 99
National TV: ESPN
Regional TV: FSSW (Denver) | FSW2 (Golden State)