The Denver Nuggets will be in California for a Friday night showdown with the Golden State Warriors. The game will air on ESPN and feature two of the top five 2021 MVP candidates on the court.
One of them — Denver center Nikola Jokic — plays like a guard and passes as well as anybody, while the other is a two-time MVP and three-time champ, Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
Jokic has had a perfect season by all standards. He’s shooting the ball at a ridiculously efficient rate despite the fact that he takes plenty of jump shots.
He’s putting up assist numbers that we have never seen over the course of a full season by any center since Wilt Chamberlain. He’s continued to do so while Jamal Murray sits with his torn ACL. There is not a soul in the basketball world that can stop Jokic from dominating.
Curry, on the other hand, went through a recent stretch where he averaged seven made threes per game over a 10-game stretch. Over a four-game period, he made 10-plus three-pointers three times.
There is not much that he cannot do with the basketball, as he’s proven himself as a legitimate MVP candidate. The only issue here is that nobody else on the team can do anywhere near what Curry can, and so they have one of the worst offenses in the entire league as a whole.
The spread for Friday night has the Nuggets as three-point favorites. The over/under is set at 228.5 points.
Winning Without Murray
Denver’s 38-20 record is pretty strong for a team coming off a trip to the conference finals. Denver’s title dreams will probably have to be put on hold, though, with Murray not coming back this year.
As amazing as Jokic has been for years and this season, Murray was the heart and soul of the playoff group a season ago, and he will be desperately missed as the games get tougher.
Austin Rivers was signed to a 10-day contract to help fill the void, while Monte Morris is also hurt. The point guard spot is all of a sudden a weakness for Denver.
The addition of Aaron Gordon does solidify the frontcourt rotation, but it can’t make up for the fact that the team’s best point guard is 6-11 and can’t defend other guards because he’s a center.
Climbing To .500
It is hard to say Steve Kerr has done a good job with the Warriors this season. When healthy, rookie James Wiseman’s playing time was very limited.
The Warriors have one of the worst overall offenses in the league. And despite having the best shooter on the planet, the team is still under .500 with just 13 games to play.
You can point to the injury to Klay Thompson and the lack of Eric Paschall. The fact that center and guard depth here is horrid. But, when you have a guy like Curry and good defensive players all around him, you should have more wins.
Kerr is not necessarily the issue, but he has by no means maximized the value of his roster. Curry, meanwhile, is looking to get going after being slowed in a tight loss to the Wizards a couple of nights ago.
Nuggets Get Win
While Curry is likely going to be better than his 2-for-14 shooting from three-point range against the Wizards, the Nuggets will be ready for him. Especially when he burned them for 53 points the last time these two teams squared off less than two weeks ago.
Denver’s offensive depth will be the difference in this one.
Free Pick: Nuggets -3
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