When the Warriors slog into Pepsi Center on Saturday to face Denver, trying to conquer what NBA insiders refer to as a “scheduled loss,” they’ll have reinforcements that were not available 24 hours earlier.
Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 5 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 6:05.
The Warriors (41-11), who arrived at their Denver hotel around 4 a.m., will have the services of veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, both of whom missed the game Friday night in Sacramento. The Warriors also missed them, as they had to overcome 25 turnovers to gain the win.
The Nuggets (27-25) are coming off one of their most impressive games of the season, a 127-124 victory over Oklahoma City on Thursday night. Denver has been inconsistent, as indicated in the fact that it has yet to win or lose more than three games in a row all season.
Warriors by 5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Zaza Pachulia & Co. vs. Nikola Jokic: The Nuggets are one of several teams that play through their big, and it’s because Jokic is the best passer on the team. The Warriors will attempt to bother him with the occasional double-team as well as playing the passing lanes. He’s coming off a triple-double (29 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists) in the win over OKC. Pachulia will have plenty of help, and he’ll need all of it.
Warriors: G Pat McCaw (bruised toe) was listed as questionable, but is available to play. F Jordan Bell (L ankle inflammation) and F/C David West (personal reasons) are listed as out.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris (L ankle soreness) is listed as probable. F Tyler Lydon (L knee surgery), F Paul Millsap (L wrist surgery) and C Mason Plumlee (R calf strain) are listed as out.
Warriors: 8-2. Nuggets: 5-5.
Ed Malloy (crew chief), Ray Acosta, Ben Taylor
This is the fourth meeting this season, with the Warriors winning two of the first three. The Warriors won two of three meetings last season and have won nine of 13 in the Steve Kerr era. The Warriors are 5-5 in their last 10 games in Denver.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
THE BACKCOURTS: There is plenty of talent on both sides. Denver has perhaps the best under-25 starting backcourt in the NBA, as Gary Harris (23 years old) and Jamal Murray (20) are potential All-Stars. They’re skilled and fearless. The Warriors, with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, have two perennial All-Stars. This is likely where the game will be decided.
THE BENCHES: With the Warriors forced to play their starters fairly heavy minutes to secure the win Friday night, the bench will come into play, particularly on defense. Denver’s second unit is 27th in true-shooting percentage, 26th in defensive rating and also prone to turnovers. This is a battle the Warriors can win, and they’ll probably need to.
THE GLASS: The Nuggets play with energy; are No. 2 in rebounding differential (plus-4.0), No. 2 in offensive rebounding and No. 4 in second-chance points. In three games this season, Denver has outscored the Warriors 50-30 in second-chance points. Considering the altitude and their travel schedule, this could be a problem for the Warriors.