NBA Playoffs: 5 X-Factors for Warriors vs Nuggets


November 10, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots the ball against Denver Nuggets small forward Kenneth Faried (35, left) during the second overtime at ORACLE Arena. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 107-101 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets versus the Golden State Warriors? This is going to be one of the best series that we’ve seen in a while.

Ever since the Nuggets destroyed the Warriors’ playoff hopes in 2008, these two teams have been under-the-radar rivals. Not only are both teams  great at scoring, but  they’re also capable defensive teams.

There is a lot of potential, and these two teams are without a doubt future contenders.

Can the Warriors beat this hot Nuggets team?

That depends on a number of factors for both teams, who have struggled with different problems this season. Some of them are simple to solve, but others, like injuries, could and will be a huge issue. This pertains to the Nuggets, who have lost a key player due to injury.

1. Can Faried Stay Healthy?

Number one. This is a huge topic that needs to be addressed right away for the Nuggets. I don’t think that this is one of those injuries where the player or team “faked” so said player could be given rest. Kenneth Faried actually did go down with a sprained ankle.

Faried’s relentless work on the glass will be tough for David Lee to contain  That is, if he’s healthy, which is far from a given.

2. Can Barnes Attack the Nuggets’ offense?

This is a huge question for the Warriors. Nothing silences the crowd like a monstrous dunk and a vicious staredown. For the Warriors, the only man that can do that is Harrison Barnes. He could have been in the dunk contest. But at that point in time, he wasn’t recognized as a dunker. Other than the fact that Barnes can dunk, he can also drive when he wants and defend well. He’s a very explosive player who is better than he realizes. If he goes at the Nuggets’ defense, it could completely change the series.

3. Can the Warriors keep the Ball in Curry’s hands?

For the Nuggets, they want the ball out of Curry’s hands. When playing the Nuggets earlier this season in Denver, Curry was limited to just five shots, and connected on two of them. Great defense by Denver, but I’m willing to bet that the Nuggets won’t ever be able to do that again. Now that Curry has some confidence, he’s going to be stroking it from 30-33 feet, so the Nuggets need to watch out. If the Warriors let Curry run the offense, he’ll either find the open man (Klay Thompson) for three, or dish to the centers in the paint.

4. Can Andrew Bogut be reliable?

Bogut is that center that the Warriors have been lacking, right? Wrong. Bogut has been a decent center, certainly doing more than Andris Biedrins. But at times, I wonder if he’s better than Festus Ezeli. Ezeli is a great defender, gets a lot of offensive rebounds, has some powerful dunks and can hit free throws. The only thing that he cannot do is catch the ball. If his hands improve, which is going to take longer than one playoff series, he’s going to be a great backup center. Bogut needs to step up his game and help the Warriors rebound, not allowing guards like Lawson to drive.

5. How Does the Altitude Help the Nuggets?

The Warriors have the best shot at winning game one, mostly because they’ll be used to the altitude by the time they play the Nuggets. Fortunately for the Nuggets, their amazing home record of 38-3 is largely due to the fact that Denver is the mile-high city, which means fatigue reaches their opponents before it reaches them.