Jackson and Iguodala weigh in on state of the Warriors
Andre Iguodala posted 12 points and six rebounds in the Warriors' 89-81 win over the Nuggets on December 23. (AP)
Programming note: Nuggets-Warriors coverage tips off tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)
OAKLAND – Four days between games is an eternity in the NBA. The Warriors, however, welcomed the time off. They needed it to catch their collective breath.
And they'll need all the wind they can muster Wednesday night when the Denver Nuggets come to Oracle Arena.
"It was very good,'' coach Mark Jackson said of the four-day respite. "And I'm glad my guys came back with the right mindset, got our work in and now look forward to a talented Nuggets team.''
The Nuggets, to be sure, want to run at every opportunity. That's a logical formula for a team that plays half its games at high altitude and wants to outlast opponents. Point guard Ty Lawson is one of the fastest players in the league, and power forward Kenneth Faried one of the most relentless. Teammates generally follow their lead.
The Warriors had enough answers in a win at Denver last month and, moreover, in upsetting the Nuggets in six games in the playoffs last season.
"They get up and down,'' center Andrew Bogut said. "They're very, very active and their (big men) are very active on the offensive glass. They move around very well. Faried's a high-energy, high-motor guy. So we've got our work cut out for us.''
The Warriors (25-14) have been one of the hottest teams in the league, coming off a 6-1 road trip and winning 11 of their last 12 games. They've lost only once since being aired out by Jackson after a listless performance in a Jan. 15 loss at Phoenix.
The Nuggets (19-18) have been inconsistent as first-year coach Brian Shaw tinkers with lineups and rotations. They had a seven-game win streak, an eight-game losing streak and most recently a five-game win streak that ended with a loss Monday night at Utah.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Klay Thompson vs. Lawson. Lawson is too quick for Stephen Curry, so Thompson gets the job. His task is to stay in front of Lawson in an effort to cut off driving lanes. If Lawson is shooting jumpers, the Warriors win the battle.
David Lee and Bogut vs. J. J. Hickson and Faried. The Nuggets more often play with the two power forwards, going without a center until 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov comes off the bench. Shaw conceivably could start Mozgov to counteract the presence of Bogut. In either case, Bogut and Lee have to offset high-energy guys Hickson and Faried.
For the Warriors, centers Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery) and Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) are out indefinitely, though O'Neal is doing light work and could be back before the All-Star break. Guard Nemanja Nedovic (strained hamstring) is expected to miss the next 12-15 days.
For the Nuggets, forward Wilson Chandler (hip) is probable. Forward Anthony Randolph (ankle) is doubtful. Forwards Danilo Gallinari (left knee surgery) and Darrell Arthur (groin) and center JaVale McGee (leg) are out.
Warriors are 9-1, Nuggets 5-5.
The Warriors were 89-81 winners in the previous meeting, Dec. 23, at Denver. They lost three of four to the Nuggets in the 2012-13 regular season before ousting them in six in the first round of the playoffs last spring.