NBA Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nuggets vs. Warriors Game 1 Betting Preview (April 16)
Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry #30 and Gary Payton II #0 of the Golden State Warriors; Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.
- The Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets meet in a matchup of two exciting teams in the West.
- The Warriors expect to have their star Stephen Curry back for this matchp and are 6.5-point favorites at home.
- Can they cover in Game 1? Raheem Palmer breaks it down
Updated Nuggets vs. Warriors Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
After a two year layoff, original big three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are together again and the Golden State Warriors are finally back in the playoffs. They’ll host the Denver Nuggets in first ever postseason game in Chase Arena and we couldn’t ask for better ending to the first day of the postseason than a prime time matchup between two MVP winners.
Despite the MVP pedigree on both sides, these teams appear to be heading in different directions as the Jokic was forced to carry the Nuggets in the absence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. while the Warriors have built a legitimate championship contender around Curry for the first time since 2019.
Are the Warriors on the verge of starting a new dynasty with a Game 1 win or will the Nuggets get the upset?
Let’s analyze both sides and find out!
Who Else Steps Up for the Nuggets?
For the Nuggets, it all begins and ends with the likely back-to-back MVP.
Jokic is having arguably one of the best individual seasons in NBA history and is one of two players along with Embiid who currently have a case for being both the best player in the league and one who is most valuable for his team.
The Nuggets are a whopping 16.8 points per 100 possessions better with Jokic on the floor vs off. Much of this has to do with his impact on the offensive end of the floor as they’re scoring 118.2 per 100 possessions and just 105.9 with him off the court (+12.9). Jokic has been dominant against the Warriors this season putting up 28 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, however, Green didn’t play in any of those games so we didn’t get a true look at what Jokic could do against the Warriors stout defense.
Nonetheless, with Jokic’s presence on this team, the starting lineup of Monte Morris, Austin Rivers, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green and Jokic is outscoring teams by +17.1 points per 100 possessions, with an Offensive Rating of 123.6 and a Defensive Rating of 106.5.
Despite how well their full season metrics look, this is a tired team that has been playing short handed the entire season. While Jokic has carried them far, there’s only so much he can do on his own. This team lacks a true secondary scorer without Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. Will Barton is team’s second leading scorer at 14.1 PPG, but he’s been inconsistent for much of the season.
Can the Nuggets rely on Monte Morris or even rookie Bones Hyland off the bench?
Beyond the struggles of not having a secondary scorer, they’re point of attack defense is a complete mess and they’re just 19th in Defensive Rating since the All-Star break (115.4). There’s plenty of concern for this team’s ability to defend Curry and it’s problematic that Rivers could be the team’s best option here. Like we’ve seen from the Nuggets all season, they will go as far as Jokic takes them.
Warriors Back to Full Strength
It has been a tale of two seasons for the Warriors. There’s the team that started 18-2 behind dominant play from Curry with the best record in the league as of Jan. 3 and there’s the team that dealt with injuries to Green and Curry going 10-16 in February and March. Despite the post All-Star break struggles for the Warriors, they finished the season strong, winning five straight games to lock up the No. 3 seed in the West.
Their 21-point comeback win against the Utah Jazz in early April may have been the turning point. Klay Thompson erupted for 36 points on 14-of-28 shooting after struggling to regain his previous form since coming back from both a torn ACL and Achilles. If can be even close to the guy he was in that game, the Warriors will be tough to stop along with the emergence of Jordan Poole.
Since Curry went down against the Boston Celtics in March, Poole proved that he could be a capable option as he averaged 25.8 points while shooting 37.4% from behind the arc along with 6.2 assists and five rebounds.
Even with Thompson and Poole playing well and the Warriors winning five straight games, their offense isn’t anything to write home about recently as they’re 25th in Offensive Rating, scoring 111.6 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes.
Fortunately the Warriors will likely welcome the return of Curry and his 25.5 points, 6.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds. Curry’s box score stats don’t do his impact justice as the Warriors are 10 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor.
A large part of that is on offense where having the gravity of the game’s best 3-point shooter leads to open shots for everyone else. Curry averaged 27.3 points on 48.2% shooting along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three games against the Nuggets this season and with extended minutes, I’m expecting even more dominant performances in this series.
While the Warriors should be able to score efficiently against a struggling Nuggets defense, this team is still built around their defense which ranks second in Defensive Rating, allowing 107.6 points per 100 possessions. They’re also third in half court Defensive Rating (91.2).
While Jokic has had monster games against this Warriors team, Draymond Green hasn’t played in any of these games. With Green on the floor, the Warriors are holding teams to 111.3 points per 100 possessions vs 114.4 with him off the floor.
Green has also held Jokic to 15.7 points on 47.9% shooting in 18 games they’ve matched up with one another and if he can continue to limit him, the Warriors should have this series locked up.
Jokic is having arguably one of the greatest seasons of all time but he can’t win a playoff series by himself.
The Nuggets have struggled to defend recently, allowing 118.1 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks. They’re 17th in Defensive eFG% (55.1%), 28th eFG% at the rim (69.3%) and 15th in opponent three point shooting percentage (37.3%). As much as this Warriors offense is struggling, they should be able to score efficiently here.
With the Warriors having the league’s second-best Defensive Rating (107.6) and Green available to slow down Jokic, I’m expecting a dominant Warriors performance in the first playoff game in Chase Center, where they’ve been dominant going 31-10 SU and 23-16-2.
Lay the -6.5 with the Warriors.
Pick: Golden State Warriors -6.5