BOULDER – Four days of training camp at the University of Colorado ended after practice on Friday morning, and now the games begin. Preseason games, that is.
The Nuggets get a major exhibition game right out of the gate: Saturday at the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
“It’s good,” forward Paul Millsap said. “They’re the team to beat out in the West. So, to get a feel for what they are doing, get a feel for what we need to do against them and how we matchup against them I think is going to be key for us.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone is fond of this type of game because of the atmosphere it has the potential to present to his still-growing basketball team. This is the first time the Warriors are back in front of their fans since winning the title in June. It has every chance of being an energized building, more reminiscent of a regular season game than an exhibition contest. That, and the opportunity to get tested by the likes of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the team, is appealing.
“It’s a heck of a challenge,” Malone said. “Let’s go, first game, and play against the best team in the world. We embrace that challenge, it’ll be a lot of fun. Great atmosphere, and it will be great to play against different guys.”
Saturday’s game is also the first chance for players that have performed well during camp to put that on the court in a game. Overall, Malone has lauded the work the Nuggets put in during their week in Boulder. Individually, players such as Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles and Torrey Craig have been highlighted for being solid during camp.
Now is their time to show it translates.
“That’s going to be fun,” Mudiay said. “Obviously people aren’t going to get the minutes that they will get in the regular season, but it’s definitely going to be fun. Just the fact that it’s another opponent, especially the champs, it will be fun.”
For Millsap it’s going to be the first chance to get game action with Nikola Jokić in the front court, and the offense as a whole. Millsap said he still needs to work on spacing when he’s on the court with Jokić.
“And it’s mostly me,” Millsap said. “Just picking my spots, getting to open spots and working on the spacing. And learning plays. After 12 years, it’s always tough coming into a new program, a new system and running plays. Once I learn the plays, it will run like clockwork.”
Notes: Jameer Nelson (toe) did not practice and will not play in Saturday’s game at Golden State. Other than that, the Nuggets got out of camp with only minor bumps and bruises. They’ll have everyone else available for the game, if they wish to play them. … The Nuggets will be out of town for nearly a week for the first three preseason games. On Monday and Wednesday, they will play at the L.A. Lakers.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.