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Nuggets-Warriors Outlook

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors

Series Price: Denver -480, Golden State +385

Series Format: Denver, 2-2-1-1-1

Game 1 - Saturday, Apr. 20
Game 2 - Tuesday, Apr. 23
Game 3 - Friday, Apr. 26
Game 4 - Sunday, Apr. 28
Game 5* - Tuesday, Apr. 30
Game 6* - Thursday, May 2
Game 7* - Saturday, May 4

Denver Nuggets 57-25 49-32 38-3 19-22 46-35 106.1 101.1
Golden State Warriors 47-35 42-39 28-13 19-22 47-34 101.2 100.3
2012-13 Head to Head Meetings
Date Results Total
Nov. 10, 2012 Denver (-2.5) 107 at Golden State 101 (2OT) OVER 202.5
Nov. 23, 2012 Denver (-6.5) 102 vs. Golden State 91 UNDER 201
Nov. 29, 2012 Golden State (+1.5) 106 vs. Denver 105 OVER 200
Jan. 13, 2013 Denver (-6.5) 116 vs. Golden State 105 OVER 209

Skinny: Despite dealing with a brutal schedule at the beginning of the season and numerous key injuries, head coach George Karl and the Nuggets are back in the playoffs. Denver finished in second place of the Northwest Division with a 57-25 record, which includes a 38-3 mark at the Pepsi Center. This will be the 22nd squad that Karl has taken to the postseason.

Denver’s strength is its depth and tempo. Losing Danilo Gallinari (knee) and his offense (16.2 PPG) will definitely be missed but this is a team that has nine players averaging more than nine points per game. Point guard Ty Lawson (16.7 PPG, 6.9 APG) leads the attack and veteran Andre Miller (9.6 PPG, 5.9 APG) has proven that he can still play at a high level and push the pace. Helping this duo finish plays is a plethora of players that can get above the rim.

Kenneth Faried (11.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.9 ) and JaVale McGee (9.1 PP, 2.3 BPG) have helped the Nuggets change the games on both ends of the floor. Faried did suffer an ankle injury in the last week of the regular season but he’s expected to be ready for Game 1, however he might not be at 100 percent. Andre Iguodala (13 PPG), Wilson Chandler (13 PPG) and Corey Brewer (12.1 PPG) can all fill it up from the outside and finish at the rim as well. Chandler and Brewer come off the bench and both will be needed to contribute more with the aforementioned injury to Gallinari.

If there is a weakness to Denver, it’s outside shooting and free throw shooting. They only connect on 34 percent from distance and just 70 percent from the charity stripe, both ranked in the bottom five of the league. Fortunately, they make up for the inadequacies with steals (9.3) and blocks (6.5), both ranked in the top three.

Nobody expected Golden State to make the playoffs this season but it answered the bell under first-year head coach Mark Jackson. His team is inexperienced but they have a lot of talent and could surprise this postseason. The Warriors finished second in the Pacific Division and this squad is balanced.

Stephen Curry (22.9 PPG) gets all the attention in the Bay Area, deservingly so, but the Warriors have five players averaging double figures in points and rookie Harrison Barnes (9.2 PPG) is on the cusp. All-Star forward David Lee (18.5 PPG, 11.2 RPG) has the ability to fill it up and he often commands extra bodies in the post, which leaves Curry and Klay Thompson (16.6 PPG) open on the outside. Golden State led the league in shooting percentage (40.3%) from 3-point land and Curry led the league with 272 bombs made this season, which is a NBA record.

Jackson doesn’t have the depth that Denver does, but Jarrett Jack (12.9 PPG) and Carl Landry (10.8 PPG, 6 RPG) have both helped this young roster. The acquisition of Andrew Bogut hasn’t produced benefits because the Australian product has only played 32 games. If healthy, he can certainly help, especially since he’s the only Golden State starter who has ever been to the playoffs. Bogut didn’t play in one game against Denver this season.

Head-to-Head Matchups: Denver captured three of the four regular season meetings against Golden State and it was very close to a four-game sweep. In their lone win, the Warriors outscored the Nuggets 28-19 in the fourth quarter for a 106-105 victory at home. Denver’s Andre Iguodala buried a 3-pointer, but instant replay determined that time had run out before the ball left his hands.

The other game played in the Bay Area went to double-overtime and Denver squeaked out a 107-101 road victory. You could argue that the Warriors should’ve won this matchup, but Klay Thompson missed a key pair of free throws in the first extra session before Danilo Gallinari extend the game.

In the two games played at the Pepsi Center, Denver ran past Golden State for two double-digit victories. What you might not know is that the Warriors held half-time leads in each of the two games but were outscored 55-38 and 64-51 in the final 24 minutes.

Betting Notes: Denver opened as an eight-point favorite for Game 1 and the number dropped to 7 ½ at most betting shops. It’s hard to see Golden State win at the Pepsi Center, considering only three teams did it this season and nobody in the last 23 tries. Ironically, two of the setbacks came to a pair of non-playoff teams in the Wizards and Timberwolves.

The Nuggets produced a 28-13 record against the spread at home, while Golden State was 19-22 straight up and 19-21 ATS on the road. The Warriors were 5-15 SU on the road against playoff teams this season and four of those wins came in 2012.

If Denver opens up a 2-0 lead, I’d expect Golden State to be catching points albeit a short number for Game 3. As a home underdog, Golden State went 5-5 both SU and ATS this season.

It’s rare to see a total listed over 200 in the playoffs, and even more surprising to see a number listed at 210, which is the ‘over/under’ for Game 1. Even though the pace should be there, this is an early start in Denver (3:30 p.m. MT) and that could mess up the routine for both clubs. The next three will all be played in the evening and you could see the total drop a few points, which creates value.

If you’re looking for some trends in this spot, handicapper Marc Lawrence has one to check out. He said, “The Golden State Warriors are 12-1-1 ATS as dogs or favorites of less than 3 points in the first round of the playoffs, including 8-0 ATS when taking 8 or less points.”

Series Outlook: Karl has made the playoffs in each of his nine seasons in Denver but he’s been sent packing in the first round eight times. Even though the Nuggets aren’t at full strength for this matchup, it’s hard to go against them in this spot, especially with home-court advantage. Golden State can certainly make this series interesting and taking close to 4/1 odds (Bet $100 to win $400) is very tempting. I don’t believe the Gallinari injury will hurt the Nuggets in this round but his offense in the half-court will be missed down the road.

Denver in 6

Lawrence: Playoff Zig-Zag Theory
News: First Round Series Odds
Wizards win at home. but Hawks cash
Warriors confident Kerr will return healthy
Spurs, Raptors both try to advance
LeBron not slowing as minutes increase
Rockets determined to play better
Cavaliers to receive last arena upgrade
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