Ranking the Golden State Warriors’ Potential Playoff Matchups

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2: Denver Nuggets – Prediction: Nuggets win series 4-2

In March, the Denver Nuggets were the most dangerous team in the NBA that didn’t start LeBron James. Two weeks into April, some NBA analysts have started calling them the weakest of the Western Conference’s top seeds.

Danilo Gallinari’s horrific ACL injury and Ty Lawson’s ongoing struggles with a plantar fascia tear have left the Nuggets short two of their top three players going into the playoffs. Gallinari and Lawson are the heart of Denver’s offense, and as explosive as Andre Igoudala can be[3], his struggles from the line this year severely limit how head coach George Karl can use him in crunch time.

Apr 10, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (center), forward Anthony Rudolph (right), and guard Ty Lawson (left) celebrate from the bench during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 96-86. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Nuggets are still the better team even without Gallinari and Lawson. Karl turned Denver into one of the most exciting run-and-gun teams in the league this season, and opponents have always had difficulty playing the Nuggets at home in Mile-High City. The Warriors, especially with a lead-footed Andrew Bogut on the floor, would struggle to adapt to the Nuggets’ pace.

Although Curry has displayed some of his strongest shooting performances against Denver’s weak defense (he shot 47.4 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from deep against the Nuggets this season), his own deficiencies on the other end have proven to be just as costly. Denver has scored almost 11 more points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor this season.