Oct 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) defends Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (8) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Warriors won 129-128. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Denver travels to Golden State tomorrow for a very tough test.
The Denver Nuggets struggled to overcome Golden State in their first match-up.
Injuries, lack of effort, and little defense were just a few things that toppled the Nuggets in the 24 point loss.
Now, Denver will have to face Golden State in enemy territory to kick off the new year. However, a Denver upset is not out of the question.
It will be tough to do, but the Denver Nuggets are capable.
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If Denver can execute at least these three aspects of the game to perfection, then they will disappoint the Warriors home crowd and go back home with a ton of momentum.
Nov 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) keeps the ball inbounds under pressure from Denver Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Limit the Big 4
Now, yes slowing down a core of stars that consists of Steph, Klay, Kevin, and Draymond is easier said than done.
But, the Nuggets have the tools to slow them down defensively, they just have to be willing to give the effort. If Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay, who are very capable defensively, can limit the Splash Brothers production from the perimeter, then they will have to go to either Durant or Green.
Green is very physical, but if Jokic can get up for this game and not let him under his skin, then he will be able to use his size to shut down Draymond. Then than leaves Durant.
If I were Malone, I would start by having Wilson Chandler guarding him since Gallinari has never been a great defender. Chandler will have to redeem himself after a poor defensive effort in their last game as is the case with the entire team.
Therefore, if the “Big 4,” of Golden State struggles, it will force the role players to step up and try to beat Denver.
This will be a huge first step towards conquering Golden State if Denver pulls this feat off.
Jun 5, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Fans celebrate outside the arena after game two of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Tune out the Crowd
Golden State is one of the toughest places to play in the league.
The Warriors are virtually unbeatable there unless you are the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nuggets on the other hand cannot let the crowd get to them.
This young core needs to make sure the crowd stays out of it and doesn’t affect their performance whenever a swing in momentum occurs. The Nuggets need to strike quick and early and try to take the Warriors crowd out of the game in the first quarter.
This means snagging an early lead, beating Golden State in the hustle plays, winning the battle on the glass, and playing pestering defense.
Oct 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) defends Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Warriors won 129-128. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t be Afraid of a Little Trash Talk
Remember last year when Draymond said they didn’t actually lose to Denver because they were without key players?
I know that certainly irked me. I hope it irked the team as well.
My question is this: if Draymond starts jawing at Jokic, is Jokic going to shy away from the moment or use it as motivation to be more productive? When DeMarcus Cousins scored on Tim Duncan a few years ago and started talking a bit of trash, did Duncan just lay down? Nope, he went on to score 10 unanswered points reminding Cousins he was dealing with a legend.