The quest for championship No. 7 begins this weekend for the Golden State Warriors, who will tip-off their first-round playoff series against the Nuggets on Saturday. As such, questions abound regarding Steph Curry’s injured foot and his status for Game 1.
That’s not the only point of intrigue with the matchup, though. The Nuggets are similarly waiting on star guard Jamal Murray, who has been out for a year after tearing his ACL. Murray has been doing his thing in practice for a hot minute, but there’s no telling when/if he’ll hit the court against Golden State.
Nuggets fans are hoping for a surprise return from Michael Porter, Jr. (back surgery) as well, but one would do well not to place bets on it happening.
There’s also the Nikola Jokic factor to consider — will the MVP candidate dominate offensively against a much smaller Draymond Green-Kevon Looney combination? Or can the Dubs duo make him uncomfortable? Time will tell.
Perhaps lost in the shuffle of everything else that’s going in is the fact that former Warrior DeMarcus Cousins will be squaring off with his old team. Although he undoubtedly wants to make the best of the big reunion, the four-time All-Star clearly has some concerns about what might transpire.
Cousins Sounds off on the Matchup
After the Warriors-Nuggets pairing became official earlier this week, Cousins made no bones about the fact that his club has a steep hill to climb against his former team. Especially if Steph and Klay Thompson get going.
“Obviously we’re playing the greatest shooter of all time, two of the greatest shooters of all time,” Cousins said, via Mile High Sports. “Constant threats on the floor from basically anywhere and they’re a well-oiled machine. They have championship DNA. They’ve been here plenty of times, so we got to lace our boots up.”
As he sees it, the Nuggets need to be fundamentally sound lest the Warriors stomp them into the hardwood.
“Biggest thing for us, we got to get our turnovers under control because for a team like Golden State they can capitalize on, if you have a 10-15 turnover game that can get ugly,” Cousins said. “So I would say the biggest thing right now is turnovers and we got to get our rotations down packed on the defensive end.”
He’s not wrong; Denver gave up 17.3 points off turnovers per game during the regular season, the fifth-worst mark in the Association. Contrastingly, Golden State was the sixth-best team in the league at capitalizing on opponent miscues, scoring 17.6 PPG off of giveaways.
“Regular season is one thing,” Cousins added. “Obviously you can get away with a lot of things. A lot of small detail things. In the playoffs every possession matters. We got to lock in on the game plan, whatever that may be and every small detail matters.”
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Boogie’s Hard Road
Cousins’ abridged 2018-19 season in the Bay Area was the last time he really resembled his former All-Star self on a consistent basis. Despite being fresh off a torn Achilles, the 6-foot-10 big man averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per contest.
Unfortunately, a torn quad kept him out of action for a significant portion of the club’s playoff run (although he did get some Finals run). His injury woes wouldn’t end there, either.
Shortly after Cousins made the decision to leave the Warriors and sign with the rival Lakers, he suffered a torn ACL while playing pickup. Los Angeles ended up waiving him as a result and he has bounced from team to team ever since. He may have found himself a new basketball home in Denver, though.
In 31 games with the Nuggets this season, he averaged 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per outing as Jokic’s primary backup.
Former Warrior, Four-Time All-Star Dishes on Showdown With Golden State