Denver Looking to Draw Even

Two straight losses have the Denver Nuggets against the ropes. A third loss on Sunday could well have the team facing a standing eight count or worse.

George Karl’s side will look to draw even with the Golden State Warriors in Game 4, turning the first round series into a best-of-three competition. A win would also see the Nuggets regain home court advantage.

Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 PM ET from Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Series Recap

Steph Curry has led the Golden State Warriors to a 2-1 series lead.

Steph Curry has led the Golden State Warriors to a 2-1 series lead.

With an impressive 38-3 home record this season and unbeaten at the Pepsi Center since Jan. 18, few expected Denver to struggle against Golden State in the Mile High City. That’s exactly what happened.

Game 1 saw the Nuggets scrape out a 97-95 win on a late Andre Miller layup. Veteran Miller had a huge game, tallying 28 points and suggesting the Nuggets might fare well without Danilo Gallinari. But the Warriors made the real statement; Denver was in for a tough bout.

The Warriors lost All-Star forward David Lee after Game 1, but impressive outings by Steph Curry, Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes plugged the gap in Game 2. The Warriors went on to beat the run-and-gun Nuggets at their own game in the second contest, running away to a 131-117 victory.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have been that surprising that the Warriors ended the Nuggets home winning streak. After all, the Warriors were one of those three teams that won at Pepsi Center during the regular season.

As the series switched to Oakland, things tightened up again. This time it was the Warriors who squeezed out a 110-108 win to take a 2-1 series lead. Curry was again the catalyst, tallying 29 points, while Ty Lawson led all scorers with 35 points. Fans will be hoping this particular point guard matchup goes off again on Sunday night.

Postseason Retrospective

Sunday night’s game has a lot riding on it for both teams. Denver can ill-afford to go down 3-1 while the Warriors will want to keep a hold of the home court advantage they prized away from the Nuggets in Game 2. Both need to win this series.

Much has been written over the past few years about Denver’s woeful playoff record. Now making its 10th consecutive playoff appearance, the Nuggets have escaped the first round just once during that time (2009). If you head back further, things don’t look that much better.

Since joining the NBA ahead of the 1976-77 season, Denver has made 23 playoff appearances, failing to make it out of the first round in 16 of those. To make things worse, in 1978, the side was eliminated by Seattle during the Western Conference semifinals, but received a bye into that round. That means the Nuggets have only advanced from their initial round six times in 36 years!

Still, Denver has been a constant in the Western Conference playoff picture for more than a decade. That’s something Golden State can only dream of.

Since winning the NBA title in 1975, the Warriors have made just eight postseason appearances. Unlike Denver though, the team has advanced out of the first round five times. However, in the last 20 years, the side has only made three appearances, two of which ended in the first round.

With both teams sporting horrific recent playoff records, winning the series would be huge, which makes Sunday’s game massive.

As an aside, Denver’s head coach George Karl led the Warriors to the Western Conference semifinals in 1987.

Ty Lawson will look to lead the Nuggets to a victory in Oakland, setting up the seven-game series to finish in Denver.

Ty Lawson will look to lead the Nuggets to a victory in Oakland, setting up the seven-game series to finish in Denver.

Game 4 Preview

Game 4 is set-up in much the same way as Game 3. Golden State will be without All-Star forward David Lee (hip) and utility player, Brandon Rush (ACL/MCL). Steph Curry will continue to nurse an aggravated ankle suffered in Game 2. Denver will be without Danilo Gallinari (ACL) while Timofey Mozgov (thumb) is listed as day-to-day.

The Nuggets will look to get more solid performances from Ty Lawson (averaging 22.0 points in the series) and Andre Miller (17.7ppg) in the backcourt, while the athletic big man combo of JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried will look for more fast break action.

Golden State will expect a big performance from Curry (26.0ppg), while the likes of Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry, and Harrison Barnes will need to play as they have for much of this series; effectively.

Golden State is now 2-1 against Denver this season when playing at Oracle Arena and 3-4 all-told.

Since 2004, the Nuggets have trailed 2-1 in a playoff series on seven occasions. The side is 1-6 in Game 4 during that period. The only win came against the Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference finals.

Golden State has not lost a Game 4 when leading 2-1 since 1976. That might seem impressive but the side has only played in two games fitting those criteria (1991, 2007).

Betting Options

Despite momentum having swung towards the Warriors, Denver enters Game 4 as the favorite. The spread opened at 1.5.

During the regular season, the Nuggets tallied a 49-33-0 ATS record, including a 3-1-0 ATS record against the Warriors. Golden State meanwhile was 42-38-2 ATS during the course of the campaign.

Denver was 21-20-0 ATS when playing on the road, while Golden State was 23-18-0 ATS at home. The Nuggets recorded a 35-24-0 ATS tally when playing as the favorite, while the Warriors were 19-19-2 ATS as the underdog.

Things have gone very differently this postseason. The Warriors – underdogs in each of the first three games – have covered the spread in each outing, covering +7.5 in Game 1, +8.5 in Game 2, and +1.5 in Game 3.

If the Warriors manage to cover again in Game 4, Denver could be facing a 3-1 deficit.

The total for Game 4 opened at 211.5.

During the regular season, both Denver (46-36-0) and Golden State (46-35-1) favored the over. During four regular season meetings, the total went over three times.

Game 1 saw the total go (considerably) under but normal service was resumed in Games 2 and 3 as the total went over. The 248 combined points in Game 2 smashed the 208 marker set by Vegas.

Despite the absence of Lee (Golden State) and Gallinari (Denver), the teams are still putting points on the board so the over remains the smart bet when the two teams take to the hardwood on Sunday night.

 

Schedule

GAME 1: Golden State 95, Denver 97

GAME 2: Golden State 131, Denver 117

GAME 3: Denver 108, Golden State 110 (Golden State leads 3-0)

GAME 4: Denver at Golden State (Sun, Apr. 28, 9:30 PM ET)

GAME 5: Golden State at Denver (Tue, Apr. 30, TBC)

GAME 6: Denver at Golden State (Thu, May 2, TBC)*

GAME 7: Golden State at Denver (Sat, May 4, TBC)*

*If necessary

Series winner plays winner of San Antonio-LA Lakers series.

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