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What to Watch For (Game 7): The Warriors Need This One … Will They Play Like It?

Both the Warriors and Nuggets come into tonight’s game at 3-3. But somehow, you get the sense these teams are far apart.

For starters, the Nuggets are coming off a blowout home win over Utah, and the Warriors are coming off getting blown out by the host Los Angeles Lakers.

Denver started slow, but have won three straight and are starting to look like the formidable team many expected. Golden State started well but have lost 2 of their last 3 and are starting to look like the mediocre team many expected.

Of course, the Warriors can change that perception with a win tonight. Watch for the sense of urgency Golden State plays with. Coming off a humbling loss, and playing without starting center Andrew Bogut, the Warriors could respond with another listless performance, demoralized by the cards they’ve been dealt. Or, they could go the other way, get more focused, more hungry, knowing any win they get during this rough patch of season will pay dividends down the road.

Here are some other things to watch for tonight …

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Watch to see if Jackson goes big, giving most of the minutes at center to Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins, or continues with the small ball and plays Landry at center.

The Carl Landry-David Lee tandem, which has been one of the bright spots this year, didn’t work against the Lakers’ size. Well, Denver also has some size to contend with.

Kosta Koufos, the starting center, is 7-feet, 265. Kenneth Faried, the starting power forward, plays bigger than his 6-8, 228-pound frame suggests. The Nuggets have been bringing 7-foot gazelle Javale McGee off the bench.

Denver leads the league in rebounds per game (50) and is second in rebound differential (+8.7, second only to the Lakers’ 9.5).

This would seem to be an ideal game to give Ezeli and Biedrins the bulk of the minutes. None of the Nuggets’ big men are high scorers. Jackson doesn’t need to try and offset their offensive production by scoring on the other end.

Plus,Denver’s perimeter players are always in attack mode. Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala, the starting backcourt, aren’t good shooters. They live on penetration. The Warriors need a shot-blocking presence.

Will Jackson get sucked in by the offensive skills of the Landry-Lee combo? Or will he stick with a traditional lineup?

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Watch the Stephen Curry-Ty Lawson match-up. The last time they played against each other in the regular season, Curry put up a ridiculous stat line: 36 points on 13 of 17 shooting with 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 1 turnover in 36 minutes.

In eight career games against the Nuggets, Curry is averaging 21.8 points on 54.5 percent shooting with 6.3 assists and 2.4 turnovers.

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Watch for Joe Lacob drooling on the sidelines. The Warriors wanted Andre Iguodala to fill their small forward hole. They couldn’t work out a trade with Philadelphia, who wound up getting Andrew Bynum in return. But the first five games has proven the Warriors still need a beast a small forward (it’s looking as if rookie Harrison Barnes is going to need some time).

Iguodala is averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 36 minutes per game. With Danilo Gallinari starting at small forward, Iguodala will likely defend Klay Thompson.

Marcus Thompson