The Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors kick off what should be an entertaining best-of-seven series in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Who takes the early 1-0 lead?
Catch this game live on Sunday, April 17, at 8:30 AM, Manila time
Away: Denver Nuggets (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Monte Morris
- SG: Will Barton
- SF: Aaron Gordon
- PF: Jeff Green
- C: Nikola Jokic
It’s all about Nikola Jokic for the Nuggets in the playoffs – just like it was in the regular season. There is arguably no more valuable player to a team this season than the Serbian big who dragged the Nuggets to the playoffs with his all-around brilliance. He was also that way in the four meetings with the Warriors back in the regular season. The Nuggets won three of those games – covering the spread twice — with Jokic posting mammoth averages of 28.0 points (51.9 FG%), 15.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
Even though Draymond Green did not play in any of those games, his presence in the series will likely not result in a significantly blander production from Jokic because he is simply too big and too smart to let the Warriors turn him into a one-dimensional player. It begins and ends with Jokic for the Nuggets, who will have to capitalize on all free chances they’d get off Warriors’ double teams on the center.
Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, and Monte Morris will have to be great off the ball while letting Jokic choose what to do with the rock. That is to be expected of the Nuggets, who ranked third in the regular season with 27.8 assists per game and second in percentage of shots made off assists (66.7%).
Home: Golden State Warriors (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Stephen Curry (probable)
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Andrew Wiggins
- PF: Jonathan Kuminga
- C: Draymond Green
First of all, the biggest question for the Warriors is the status of Stephen Curry in the series opener. Curry is reportedly on pace to play in Game 1 against the Nuggets, and that’s great news for Golden State, which played the final 12 games of the regular season without the two-time NBA MVP. Curry led the Warriors with 25.5 points per game. He was better against the Nuggets, as he put up 27.3 points on 48.2 FG% in three games versus Denver.
Just as noteworthy is Draymond Green being finally available to play against the Nuggets. Kevon Looney was left with the primary assignment of guarding Jokic in the regular season, but he’ll now get help from the former Defensive Player of the Year. With Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson, the Warriors have the core of their championship glory years intact for the playoffs, ready to remind the Nuggets of what has made Golden State a terrifying offensive force.
There is also the rapidly rising Jordan Poole, who’s become another scary option on the attack for a Warriors team that ranked third in 3-pointers made per game with 14.3 and eighth with a 36.3 3FG%. Golden State enters the playoffs with a 5-1 record against the spread in its last six games.
Spread: The Warriors win, but Jokic wreaks enough havoc to help Denver cover (+6.5).
Over/Under: The Warriors will score over 115 points while the Nuggets take care of the rest for an Over (223.0) hit.