Do Golden State want to avoid Denver in the first round of the playoffs?

The Nuggets beat the Warriors 115-108 on Saturday night, giving them their second win of the season over Golden State. The Warriors should not want to face Denver in the first round of the playoffs.

The Warriors lost to the Denver Nuggets 115-108 on Saturday night after a win against the Sacramento Kings a night earlier. It was a tough back-to-back considering that they were playing in Denver, which has a high altitude, making it harder for opposing players to breathe running up and down the court. A stat was brought to my attention: the Warriors are 5-24 when playing the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back in Denver. Good thing there are not any back-to-back games in the playoffs.

The Nuggets are a sneaky dangerous team with a plethora of young talent. Led by Nikola Jokic, who is only 22, has already become one of the best passing big men in the league. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are a couple of young and athletic guards who are maturing themselves into really good NBA players. Additionally, the Nuggets did all of this without arguably their best player, Paul Millsap, who has been out with an injury since November, but is expected to be back after the all-star break. Jokic, Murray, and Harris are all young, hungry players looking to make the leap to superstardom. I haven't even talked about notorious Warrior-killer, Will Barton, who torched the Warriors on Saturday night again.

Containing Barton will be no easy task, but it has to be done if the Warriors want to have a relatively easy first round to keep their legs fresh for the later rounds.

This season, Jokic is averaging 16.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 5.5 apg. The number that stands out is the assists per game. 5.5 assists are a huge number for a center to be averaging and this makes Denver challenging to defend because of how highly skilled of a passer Jokic is. In four games vs. the Warriors this season, Jokic is averaging 16.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 5.8 apg.

Now, let's talk about Murray, who is emerging as an up and coming young player in this league. In his second year in the league, Murray is averaging 16.5 ppg on 45.5 percent from the field, which is an improvement from his rookie averages of 9.9 ppg on 40.4 percent from the field. Against the Warriors this season, Murray is averaging 14.8 ppg on only 40 percent shooting. It still doesn't take away the fact that he is one of most young, underrated players in the league.

Here, Murray gets a great pass from Jokic and shows some hang time with the finish over Durant.

Harris is another integral part of Denver's young core.

On the season, Harris is averaging 17.4 ppg with 3.2 apg on 48.5 percent shooting. In four games against the Warriors this season, he is averaging 15.3 ppg with 3.0 apg on 42.9 percent shooting. The numbers might be down against the Warriors, but he's still capable of putting up a big game with his shooting ability.

Denver is a young team playing without its best player in Millsap and are still in the playoff picture. They have a lot of young talent and a great head coach in Mike Malone, who knows the Warriors after being an assistant there for a year. 

If Denver and Golden State do meet up in the first round of the playoffs, it will be one of the most entertaining matchups of the first round in the NBA.

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