The Golden State Warriors look to get back on track when they visit the Denver Nuggets in the second game of a home and home series on Thursday night. The Nuggets nearly blew a 24-point halftime lead but they still escaped San Francisco with an 89-86 win on Tuesday. Here’s a complete preview, including betting odds and free NBA picks. The Warriors opened at -4 at FanDuel while PointsBet set the total at 213 in their NBA odds board.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets
Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 09:30 PM EST at Ball Arena
Denver Lacks Offensive Firepower
The Warriors (27-7 SU and 21-11-2 ATS) saw their three-game winning streak end after Tuesday’s loss as 8-point home faves in what turned out to be a low-scoring game, which was surprising since Draymond Green didn’t play. Green’s defense (plus-4.6 DBPM) makes him worth plus-4.3 Box Plus/Minus overall, or four points per 100 possessions better than his backup (minus-2.0 Offensive Box Plus/Minus, plus-2.3 Defensive Box Plus/Minus). These are just stats, of course.
The Nuggets (17-16 SU, 14-19 ATS), on the other hand, ended a three-game losing streak and now will try to build some momentum with a depleted roster. Denver is still without Jamal Murray (left knee injury recovery) and Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery), Aaron Gordon (left hamstring soreness) has missed three straight games and Monte Morris (left knee soreness) might not be available on Thursday. Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic will have to carry them to victory once again.
Nikola Jokic vs. Kevon Looney
Jokic led the Nuggets with 22 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and four steals last Tuesday and another monster game from him can determine the outcome of this contest.
“Nikola having 18 rebounds, 22 points and making a key, key play down the stretch is why he’s a great player,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said after Tuesday’s victory. “You need those types of plays to pull out wins like this.”
With Draymond Green still in health and safety protocols, Kevon Looney will once again deal with Jokic for most of the game. Looney can’t let Jokic dominate at both ends of the court and he also has to step up on offense, after scoring just six points with five rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes on Tuesday.
“They were the aggressor from the start,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “I loved the way we fought back in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. … Really proud of the guys for the effort, but obviously we’ve got to play better.”
Golden State’s 86 points on Tuesday were a season-low and they made just 16 of 31 free-throws. Coach Kerr will make sure the Warriors play better to start the game this time and the team will likely regress to the mean at the charity stripe but I still like the Under here.
Draymond Green, Damion Lee and Moses Moody are in health and safety protocols for Golden State while Denver will be without Aaron Gordon (plus-0.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and possibly Monte Morris (minus-0.1 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and the Under is 4-0 in their last four games.
The Warriors rank 18th in the league with 99.4 possessions per game while the Nuggets are 25th with just 97.5. I’ll sprinkle some money on the Under and enjoy this Western Conference matchup on Thursday.
NBA Pick: Under 213 (-110) at PointsBet