Preview: Nuggets face Warriors in their final preseason game

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Finally, the Denver Nuggets will close out preseason play tonight, which means the regular season is right around the corner. Denver is 2-2 through four preseason games and looks like a team ready to get the regular season started.

Before that, the Nuggets have one final tune-up against the defending champion, Golden State Warriors. There is no telling how much the Nuggets starters will play, but I expect it to be minimal especially with the injury history Denver has endured in that building.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors
When: 8:00 PM MST

Where: Chase Center

How to Watch/Listen: ESPN2, Altitude Sports Radio 92.5FM

Rival Blog: Golden State of Mind

Projected Starting Lineups:

Warriors — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney

Nuggets — Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Zeke Nnaji

Three Things to Watch

How much do the starters play?

Even though it’s the starters final time to mesh before the regular season begins, I honestly wouldn’t play any of the starters tonight against the Warriors. It just doesn’t seem worth it and with the Nuggets injury history at the Chase Center I just wouldn’t risk it.

On the flip side of that, the Nuggets starters could use at least one more game before the regular season begins and if the Warriors play their starters this is a great opportunity to see where they are at. We’ve seen glimpses of greatness, but we’ve also seen some growing pains amongst the Nuggets starting five and those are definitely things you would like to see tuned up before they face Utah on Wednesday night.

If the starters do play, I wouldn’t expect it to be the entire game and I would just give them the first half. Once you see them establishing that rhythm and they start to have success it’s time to take them out and let the bench unit take the reigns.

Bones Hyland (left ankle sprain), Jamal Murray (left hamstring tightness), and Nikola Jokic (right wrist sprain) are all listed as questionable, so I would imagine the Nuggets are going to be incredibly careful with those three.

Ish Smith

When the Nuggets acquired Kentavious Caldwell-Pope this summer from the Washington Wizards it felt like Smith was the after thought of the deal. He has been anything but that in the preseason and feels like a player poised to get some playing time to start the season.

The calm and controlled nature in which Smith plays with has been a welcomed sight to the Nuggets second unit and also allows Hyland to play a little more off ball and do what he does best, which is score. If anything, Smith gives the Nuggets bench unit another ball handler who can score the ball and defend at a somewhat high level. I expect Smith to get a fair amount of run tonight and hopefully he can build on his already strong preseason.

Christian Braun

It was never a question whether Braun could help the Nuggets right away on the defensive end of the floor, but his offense was the biggest questions mark through summer league and to open the preseason. Braun has started to find a rhythm scoring the ball though and you can tell his confidence is growing because of it.

This might be the last real look we see of Braun for awhile because it’s going to be tough for him to crack the rotation at least early on in the season. As the season goes on injuries always happen and that might be when we see Braun get his time to shine. A strong final preseason game could be huge for Braun’s confidence so he’s ready whenever his number is called in the regular season.