Yesterday versus the Kings, the Warriors played the first of two back-to-back games. The entire game was filled with uncharacteristic mental relapses by the reigning champions. The Warriors came out with a victory although that wasn’t without turning the ball over 25 times against one of the worst defensively efficient defenses in the league. The game prior they committed 19 turnovers in a blowout loss versus the Jazz. These past two games have caused many eyebrows to raise with concern. What’s going on with the team we all deemed to be an automatic lock for the NBA Finals?
After the game, head coach Steve Kerr made it clear that his team is fatigued with dire need of the All-Star break arriving as soon as possible so they can rest throughout the weekend and enjoy their mini-vacation.
“Hell yeah,” Kerr said. “Guys are dying to get to the All-Star break. We’re limping to the finish line of the All-Star break. But we’ve got to fight through it to the break and then we need to get the hell away from each other and go sit on a beach and relax and then we’ll be in great shape.”
In a long, 82 game season, all of the players tend to look forward to the All-Star break. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to relax their minds and bodies before jumping into the final stretch of the season. Although, they have six more games to go.
Tonight, they will face off with the Nuggets in Denver, also known as Mile High City. The Nuggets are coming off of a thrilling victory over the Thunder capped off by a game winner by Gary Harris at the final buzzer.
The Nuggets have a 20-7 home record which puts them up there as one of the best teams in the league at home. They also have a slight advantage over visiting teams due to Denver’s high altitude of 5280 feet. Nuggets’ players are, of course, already used to the city’s height although it takes some time for visiting players to get acclimated to running for 48 minutes without needing to catch their breath.
With that being said, the Nuggets always have the opportunity to out-run their opponents at least during the first quarter of the game. They were able to jump out to gain and hold a lead versus the Thunder for majority of the game but the Warriors aren’t as easy to hold a lead against due to their high-powered, transitional offense.
For Denver to win, regardless of the Warriors’ fatigue, they need a repeat of great performances by their young core. In the win against the Thunder, Nikola Jokic produced a 29 points to go with a triple-double, Jamal Murray scored 33 points, and Gary Harris added 25 of his own including the game winning three.
The Nuggets have the opportunity to end the Warriors’ road trip with a second loss out of three games. It’s also an opportunity to tie the season series between the two teams. Assuming the Nuggets hold on to the eighth seed (currently holding a one game lead over the Clippers), a win against the Warriors can boost the team’s confidence before a potential seven game series if they meet in the first round of the playoffs.
As far as the Nuggets being able to compete with the Warriors if they meet in the playoffs, I can’t say I’m a believer. For tonight, I do believe the Nuggets will overcome the challenge of defeating the Warriors, who are 11-0 this season following a loss, with the final score of 124-117.