Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry reacts after making a three-pointer during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Warriors vs Nuggets Game 1 Preview

The No. 3 Golden State Warriors are set to take on the No. 6 Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA playoffs with Game 1 set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

A Powerhouse Once Again for the Warriors

Golden State finished with a record of 53-29 that secured them the third seed in the Western Conference. This year was a turn-around season for the Warriors.

The Warriors had a five year run from 2015-2019 where they made the NBA Finals every year. They were a budding dynasty and won three NBA Championships during this span. Their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green coached by Steve Kerr brought them their first championship in 2015.

In the summer of 2016 following a finals loss, the Warriors added former league MVP Kevin Durant to their team. Pairing him with 2-time league MVP Stephen Curry and the rest of their core. With the addition of Durant, they were a juggernaut and won the NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, the Warrior dynasty was halted as Durant tore his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the NBA Finals. They were unable to capture their third straight championship that year and the team would change significantly.

Durant left in free agency and Thompson missed two years with injuries. The Warriors went 15-50 the next year in 2020 holding the worst record in the league. In 2021, they went 39-33 and missed the playoffs again after losing twice in the play-in tournament.

This year, the Warriors are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2019. The same core of Curry, Green and Thompson are leading the way with a new supporting cast. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are two of the team’s new contributors. Wiggins is averaging 17.2 points per game and made his first all-star game this year, while Poole is averaging a career-high 18.5 points per game in his third year.

One important development has been a recent injury to leading scorer Stephen Curry. Curry missed the teams last 12 regular-season games after suffering a sprained ligament and bone bruise in his left foot. He is expected to be back for Game 1.

Nuggets Led By Reigning MVP

The Nuggets finished with a record of 48-34 and captured the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

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The Nuggets have had key players go down with an injury this year. They have been without star point guard Jamal Murray all year as he has been recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last year. While promising young forward Michael Porter Jr underwent back surgery after playing just nine games and missed the entire season. Murray and Porter Jr are two of the Nuggets biggest investments. The Nuggets have about $290 million in guaranteed money tied to both these players combined.

When two key players miss the entire season like this, playoffs aren’t usually in the team’s future. But, the Nuggets have been preserved on the back of Nikola Jokic. Jokic is the reigning league MVP and a favorite to win it again after a season where he posted 27.1 points per game, 13.8 rebounds per game and 7.9 assists per game.

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Jokic has willed the Nuggets to the playoffs and will need to continue his heroics if the Nuggets want to make a run. What Jokic and the Nuggets have going for them in this series is that they went 3-1 against the Warriors in the regular season. Let’s see if that success continues this Saturday.

Will the Warriors take another step in their rise back to prominence? Or will Jokic be too much for the Warriors to handle? Saturday at 8:30 p.m. we get Game 1.

About Nicholas Rubino

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