The Golden State Warriors will face the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at Ball Arena, signalling their eighth-straight game in eight different cities.
Given the gruelling nature of their schedule to start the season, the Warriors have done about as good as realistically expected with a 6-2 record. Meanwhile, unlike Golden State last season, the Nuggets have continued on their merry way from last season’s championship, racking up a 7-1 record on the back of more absurd numbers from Finals MVP Nikola Jokic.
While one eye could be looking at an upcoming five-game home-stand, Wednesday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets presents as a huge opportunity for the Golden State Warriors.
Based on their early form, the Warriors are staking their claim as the second-best team in the West behind the Nuggets. That makes for a tantalizing early season matchup on Wednesday, even if it’s importance isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things.
It does provide Golden State an opportunity to make a statement, to declare themselves as bonafide championship-contenders again after a season of on and off-court issues in 2022-23.
Closing a tough road-trip at altitude against the reigning champions is an extraordinarily difficult task, but one made easier by the absence of Nuggets star Jamal Murray. The 26-year-old point-guard is dealing with a hamstring strain sustained in Saturday’s win over the Chicago Bulls.
Vlakto Cancar is also out for the Nuggets as he continues rehab from a devastating knee injury, while Jokic is listed as probable with right wrist inflammation. The Warriors, on the other hand, continue their clean bill of health but have listed Draymond Green as probable due to personal reasons.
The former Defensive Player of the Year’s availability will be crucial in conjuring any ability to stop Jokic, with the two-time MVP having averaged 28.4 points, 12.9 rebounds and 8.4 assists on 63/39/74 shooting splits through eight games.
With Murray out, Jokic took on even more of the offensive load against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, tallying 35 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the 134-116 comeback win.
Denver is currently fifth in offensive rating and eighth in defensive rating, presenting again as a well-balanced squad with few if any flaws. Murray will be a major absence though, with his replacement, Reggie Jackson, sticking out as the clear weakness in an otherwise formidable starting five.
Can the Warriors showcase their improved form and legitimacy as one of the best teams in the league, or will the Nuggets reign supreme as they did across all three meetings last season?
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