By Huey Bergstrom
(SAN FRANCISCO) Chase Center will be at least partially filled Friday night for the Warriors game against the Denver Nuggets and could provide Golden State with an added bonus in what is sure to be a hard fought game.
The Warriors won a physical game against the Nuggets at the Chase Center April 12. The overarching story from that game for Denver, beyond the loss, was the torn ACL Jamal Murray sustained late into the game. A slashing Murray feel hard with less than a minute in the fourth quarter. He immediately winced in pain and was quickly taken to the locker room.
The Nuggets will likely come out with an added level of fire given what happened to Murray last time they were at the Chase Center.
Curry had 53 in the April 12 win and he could go for another 53, no one knows for sure. The determining factor will be the Warriors bench and defense.
If they play good defense, as they did in their three road wins, they'll likely win. Golden State defense usually means low shooting percentages for the opposing team and turnovers, which work to the advantage of Kelly Oubre Jr., Kent Bazemore and Jordan Poole. All of whom played well in the Dub's loss to the Wizards earlier this week. Good defense also means Draymond Green playing well, at least in terms of man-to-man coverage on Jokic. In the April 12 win Green was able to disrupt Jokic from his rhythm enough to force some bad shots and turnovers.
An additional factor, less critical but still relevant, is the added fans. Curry is nothing if not a showman and it's possible that with fans back for the first time in a year, he shows out. Especially after a less-than outstanding night against the Wizards when his shooting percentage and points were down.
Another enticing storyline in this game is the MVP matchup. Nikola Jokic has been dominant in the shortened season, putting up a double-double in 51 of the 58 games this season, and 15 triple-doubles to boot. He will likely win the MVP this season, but (and as a diehard Warriors fan there's always a but) a game like this could stick out in voters' minds if Curry shines and the Dubs win.
The Nuggets will be working everything through Jokic because of Murray's injury, and if Green can disrupt that high-post action early, it will set the tone. The first twelve minutes will be very telling, if Jokic is hitting on all cylinders and the Warriors keep fouling 20 feet from the basket, it will be a long night. However, if Green gets physical early and moves Jokic from his high-post sweet spot, look for the Dubs to cruise to victory.
All in all, the fans and Green will be too much for an injured Nuggets squad. Warriors win a nail-bitter 110-108.