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The Golden State Warriors (16-17) are preparing to host the Denver Nuggets (24-11) on Thursday evening as they look to avenge a loss in Denver on Christmas Day.
Steve Kerr made the decision a few weeks ago to lean into his youth more heavily amid Draymond Green’s suspension and Andrew Wiggins’ move to the bench. They won six of their last nine games but also just ended a three-game skid with a win Tuesday.
Denver is flying under the radar despite cruising to a championship just about half a year ago. They’re only third in the Western Conference but won seven of their last eight games and are 2-0 against Golden State this season.
Here, we will review the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Nuggets vs. Warriors clash on Thursday.
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The Nuggets are 2.5-point favorites on the road. They’re 10-8 outside of their home building, while the Warriors are 10-8 at home.
|Over 234.5 (-115)
|Golden State Warriors
|Under 234.5 (-105)
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Denver has experimented with different lineups and rotations as it prepares to make another run at the championship when the playoffs start in the spring.
Replacing the contributions of Bruce Brown and Jeff Green off the bench was never going to be easy. Young players such as Julian Strawther, Christian Braun, and Peyton Watson have all gotten their burn, but the Nuggets are only 26th in bench net rating (-2.9) thus far.
Despite struggling for production in the reserves and Jamal Murray missing time, the Nuggets won 68.6 percent of their games—better than the 64.6 percent they won during the last regular season. They also have better offensive and defensive ratings than they did last year.
Aaron Gordon will be back in the lineup after he needed 21 stitches to patch himself up after he was attacked by a dog on Christmas. He only managed 10 points and two rebounds in his return game against the Charlotte Hornets, his lowest combined total since Dec. 8.
Denver is not going to run anyone into the ground. They play at the second-slowest pace but do so extremely effectively and force opponents to play at a tempo most of them aren’t comfortable with.
The Nuggets also dominate the three-point line. They’re seventh in percentage (37.8%) and hold opponents to the fifth-fewest makes and ninth-worst percentage (35.6%).
Combine that with a league-leading assist-to-turnover ratio and you’ve got a team that believes in its identity, executes halfcourt sets to perfection, and often has the best player on the court (Nikola Jokic).
The Warriors are much less clear of an image. Their dynasty years were built on three-point marksmanship and strong defense, but they’re no longer great in either department.
Golden State is only 15th in percentage form beyond the arc (36.8%) and 19th in defensive rating.
Klay Thompson appeared to have broken out of a long shooting slump but is struggling again, averaging just 10 points per game over his last four outings. That includes nine points on 3-12 shooting (3-10 3PT) against the Nuggets on Christmas.
Steph Curry also went through a mini-slump but just scored 36 points on 60% shooting on Tuesday. He bears one of the largest scoring responsibilities in the league as his team struggles for offense if he can’t consistently nail his shots.
At the same time, opposing defenses recognize this as a fact and often send lots of attention his way. The two-time MVP thereby is often double-teamed or heavily shaded, giving him little room to operate.
Denver did a great job helping off other players to keep him contained, resulting in him scoring 18 points on 7-21 shooting on Dec. 25.
The Warriors are going to have to take advantage of their rebounding prowess (fourth in rebound rate) to give themselves a fighting chance on Thursday. They also can’t be as undisciplined as they were the last time these two faced off, as they allowed Jokic to take (and make) 18 free throws.
Although the Nuggets look like the better overall team, they’re going to need better from Jokic. The reigning Finals MVP has been shooting the ball far less than usual and averaged 20.5 points on 12.2 field goals over his last 11 outings.
Denver has been a tough matchup for Golden State in recent years. They’re a combined 8-1 in regular-season play over the last three seasons, including the two wins this year.
The Warriors were excellent at home last year but have a 0.1 net rating in the Chase Center this season, worse than the Nuggets’ 0.8 net rating on the road. We expect Denver’s methodical style of play to win out and for them to fly home with their ninth win in 10 matchups against this opponent.
Nuggets vs. Warriors pick: Nuggets -2.5 at BetMGM
When: Thursday, Jan. 4 @ 7:00/10:00 p.m. PT/ET
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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