Golden State Warriors (23-12) vs. Denver Nuggets (22-16)
It is a shame a season series like this is coming to an end so soon into the season.
The last time these two teams faced off, it was a double overtime classic that no fan wanted to end. Andre Iguodala almost made sure it did not end with a three-pointer that was released after the buzzer.
Right now, the Nuggets and the Warriors are two of the best young teams in the league. And this should provide another exciting matchup tonight.
Denver has turned its season around and has started to put together some wins after a road-heavy early part to the schedule. The Nuggets are very happy to be home. And have played extremely well. The Warriors are in that boat too as the big surprise of the NBA to this point.
David Lee is playing like an All Star as is Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson has provided a nice boost as well. This team is committed to defense too and that is the big change in this roster. This is all stuff everyone knows if they have followed West Coast NBA this year.
Now that the Nuggets are starting to round into form and are playing in one of the toughest venues in the league in the Pepsi Center, perhaps now the Nuggets make good on the promise of their expectations (perhaps in the spot in the standings the Warriors have been keeping warm for them).
Other Storylines to Watch
-The Nuggets are about to get a big shot in the arm too, in addition to that hot streak the team has gone through. Wilson Chandler is expected to return to the lineup tonight after pain in his hip has kept him out this season. Chandler is another versatile, high-energy player added to the Nuggets' lineup. Not like they do not have enough of those.
-To give you an idea of what the Nuggets' schedule has looked like this season: 15 home games to 23 road games, no streak of more than two home games in a row before January. Yes, the Nuggets have been a bunch of road warriors (excuse the pun). It is a testament to their talent that the Nuggets are 22-16 and sixth in the West. They have played five of their past six games at home since Jan. 1 and play 10 of their next 12 at home.
Tonight's Other Games
New Orleans Hornets (11-25) vs. New York Knicks (23-13)
Kenyon Martin might be the hottest player on the free agent "mercenary" market this January. Martin's name has been connected to the Knicks for a long time and the uncertainty over Rasheed Wallace's return has the Knicks still searching. But the New York Post reports the Knicks have not begun any serious discussions with Martin or his agent.
Milwaukee Bucks (18-17) vs. Toronto Raptors (14-22)
Could there be a reunion in Milwaukee? Coaching candidates are already surfacing for the expected-to-be vacant Milwaukee Bucks coaching position this offseason. Jim Boylan will likely be considered. But the New York Daily News reports former Bucks coach Mike Dunleavy could also get a call. Dunleavy was the coach during the Glen Robinson/Ray Allen/Sam Cassell days of the early 2000s, perhaps Milwaukee's best squad this side of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Sidney Moncrief.
Indiana Pacers (23-14) vs. Brooklyn Nets (21-15)
It was about 15 years ago when P.J. Carlesimo made his name in the NBA coaching ranks... for all the wrong reasons. Carlesimo is still running away from the incident where Latrell Sprewell attempted to choke out his head coach in Golden State. As many observers note, Carlesimo has softened his style and become a better NBA coach, rather than the taskmaster that led to tempers flaring.
Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17) vs. San Antonio Spurs (28-11)
There are plenty of people monitoring Ricky Rubio's return from back spasms. Rubio is still not playing in back-to-backs and the Bulls are keeping an eye on him in preparation for Monday's game. Rubio has not quite electrified this season as he has fought his way back from the torn ACL that cut his season short last year. The Wolves are struggling right now no doubt as injuries have sapped the Wolves of hope.
Oklahoma City Thunder (28-8) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (20-16)
The Thunder have an opportunity to take sole possession of the best record in the NBA tonight in Portland. After the Clippers loss to the Magic, the Thunder are alone at the top by a half game now. It seems Oklahoma City was always on schedule.
Cleveland Cavaliers (9-29) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (15-21)
Is this a crazy story or what? Many around the league believe the Cavaliers are positioning themselves to have a lot of cap room in 2014. That means they will not do anything with Anderson Varejao that would jeopardize that positioning. 2014 is a big free agent year. Guess who is available? Yep, LeBron James. This story will not end.