Apr 14, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) with the ball during the second half against the Portland Trailblazers at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 118-109. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Western Conference Playoff Prediction: #3 Denver Nuggets v. #6 Golden State Warriors

In this small-ball series the Warriors have a golden opportunity to steal game 1 in Denver as the Nuggets are waiting on starting power forward Kenneth Faried to return from a sprained ankle sustained Sunday against Portland. Without Faried, the Nuggest went small against the Bucks and Suns with Wilson Chandler in his stead and Anthony Randolph picking up some power forward minutes off the bench. The Nuggets expect Faried to return by game 2, so the Warriors’ opportunity is there on Saturday.

Nuggets probable starting lineup:

PG Ty Lawson

SG Evan Fournier

SF Andre Iguodala

PF Wilson Chandler

C Kosta Koufus

Besides the Faried ankle injury, the Nuggets have lost Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL on April 4th and only welcomed starting point guard Lawson back to the lineup a week ago from a partial tear in his right plantar fascia.

The depth of the Nuggets will be on display as they hope to continue the roll that has seen them lose only 4 games since February 14th.

Warriors probable starting lineup:

PG Stephen Curry

SG Klay Thompson

SF Harrison Barnes

PF David Lee

C Andrew Bogut

The battle of former and would-be Wolves lottery picks, Curry and Lawson will be the marquee matchup. Curry is fresh off setting the single-season 3 pointers made record while Lawson is fresh off a foot injury. Whether Iggy ends up defending Thompson or Barnes could set up interesting cross-matchups. Bogut and Koufus should wrestle down low while Lee will be free to do as much damage as he can until Faried returns.

The benches will play a huge role in this series as Jarrett Jack shouldn’t get many opportunities to punk Andre Miller, as both coaches use their backup point guards to free their starters as big-time scorers in the clutch. Should JaVale McGee have his head screwed on right, there are major opportunities for him to do damage against the Warriors’ paper thin frontcourt.

Bogut has been on the floor just under 25 minutes in 32 games this year; but as long as he is, he provides the defense, toughness and size the Warriors need. The problem is, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green are his backups should the Nuggest slash their way into the paint and get the Golden State bigs in foul trouble. Also, Carl Landry shouldn’t do the Nuggets like he does the Wolves.

Prediction: Denver in 6.

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Tags: Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Kenneth Faried Nba Playoffs Ty Lawson Western Conference

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