Warriors hope birthday luck continues against Nuggets

Field Level Media

February 25, 2024 at 12:47 am.

The Golden State Warriors complete birthday week Sunday when they invite the defending champion Denver Nuggets to what they hope will become a third consecutive party in San Francisco.

The Warriors have won two straight coming out of the All-Star break, each time with a birthday boy contributing to the victory.

On Thursday, it was rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis pouring in 17 points — his second-most of the season — on his 24th birthday in a 128-110 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The next night, Andrew Wiggins turned 29 in style, bombing in a pair of 3-pointers as part of a 14-point contribution to Golden State’s 97-84 home victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Seeking a party hat trick, the Warriors hope to turn rookie Brandin Podziemski’s 21st birthday into another celebration Sunday, but the competition will be tougher. They will be facing the Nuggets, who also have come out of the break with a pair of wins — 130-110 at home over the Washington Wizards on Thursday and 127-112 at Portland on Friday.

The Nuggets also put a happy capper on a birthday Friday, but it wasn’t a truly joyous occasion as star guard Jamal Murray, who turned 27, sat out the second night of a back-to-back with shin splints.

Murray also was unable to play when the Nuggets completed the first half with a home loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Denver coach Michael Malone admitted Friday that Murray’s absence in Portland was not “a back-to-back ‘resting.’ He is managing an injury.”

Murray is likely to face the Warriors, but Malone said he recognizes it could be another painful experience.

“It could heal, but that means he’s not playing,” he said. “So, I think it’s more managing, because we need Jamal to play. And he’s aware of that. We just have to try to limit his load as much as possible — shootarounds, practices, whatever we’re doing — to make sure that game days are holy and he can be available for as many of them as possible.”

The Nuggets have 25 regular-season games remaining in what figures to be a battle to the finish for the Northwest Division title with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Denver will be attempting to complete a season-series sweep of the Warriors, having won three close decisions — by three, six and three points — in earlier matchups.

The most recent head-to-head was a 130-127 triumph in San Francisco on Jan. 4. That was part of a 4-10 slump that temporarily dropped Golden State out of playoff position in the West.

The Warriors have since gone 10-2, a run that prompted Golden State management to reward coach Steve Kerr with a record two-year, $35 million contract extension.

“As a coach and as a staff, when we see the growth of our young players — and we’re watching them grow up literally before our eyes — it’s a very satisfying feeling,” Kerr gushed. “It’s a really wonderful group of players. I look forward to coming to the gym every day.”