A lot has changed since the Golden State Warriors knocked the
Denver Nuggets out of the Western Conference playoffs last May in a
hard-fought, six-game series.
From a top player switching teams to a coaching change on one of
the benches, each franchise has undergone major overhauls since the
series ended heading into their first meeting this season Monday
The biggest change comes courtesy of forward Andre Iguodala, who
averaged 18.0 points for the Nuggets in the playoff series a year
ago. The series-clinching loss was his last game in a Nuggets
uniform, as he signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the
Warriors in July.
Iguodala missed 12 games because of a hamstring injury earlier
in the season, and has averaged just 3.7 points in the three games
since his return on Dec. 17.
The other major difference is on the Nuggets sideline, where
Brian Shaw has replaced reigning NBA Coach of the Year George Karl.
Shaw has had some success during his first season, but the team
enters this game having lost four of five.
The Nuggets (14-12) have a lot of issues that are contributing
to their losing ways, but the most important of them has nothing to
do with scoring, rebounding and defense, according to their
“Right now, maturity is a big thing with the team,” Shaw said
following the team’s latest setback, a 112-91 loss to the Los
Angeles Clippers. “We are complaining and we are crying every
single time a play doesn’t go right for us. We complain to the
referees, looking for any excuse as to why something didn’t work
out for us and it’s costing us at the other end. We’ve talked about
punishing criers and not being criers ourselves, but we are
actually the ones that are crying.”
On the season, Denver has scored 101.2 points and allowed 100.6
points per game. However, over the past three games, the Nuggets
scoring has dipped to 94.3 points per game while allowing
The Warriors (15-13) have the offense to take advantage of
Denver’s recent defensive effort issues. Golden State averages
103.3 points and is coming off a 102-83 win against the Los Angeles
Lakers on Saturday. Iguodala didn’t need to do much, as David Lee,
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 54 points, while
Andrew Bogut chipped in 12 and 20 rebounds.
The key for Golden State is its defense. The Warriors limited
the Lakers to 32.5 percent shooting and scored 28 points off the 24
turnovers they forced.
“Our offense is going to come and go, but if we show up
defensively, force them into spots where we want them, with energy,
we’ll be fine,” Curry said. “If you make them work on every
possession, whether they make the shots or not, just as long as
they aren’t getting easy looks. As long as we stick to our game
plan, good things will happen.”
The Nuggets have owned this series of late in Denver, going 16-2
in regular-season home games versus the Warriors since December
2003. During those games, the Nuggets have averaged 116.0 points
and outscored Golden State by 12.3 points per game.