DENVER- The Nuggets are welcoming at home. They coax you to Denver, nary an All Star in sight, then tease you with an uptempo offense, averaging over 106 points per game, and then they steal your lunch money.
Denver hasn't lost at home since the middle of January, winning 23 consecutive games. They've won blowouts, scoring 132 points one evening. They've won in the final moments, at times in the most improbable of ways, against Oklahoma City, Dallas and Philadelphia. They've also beaten contenders, topping every single playoff team in the Western Conference at least once.
It's a pride factor, and definitely not something they take lightly.
"We're 30-something and three [38-3 in the Pepsi Center] at home so of course we want a home court advantage," point guard Ty Lawson said. "I think we'll win almost every game at home in the playoffs."
Why wouldn't they feel that way? The Nuggets have never played better at home ever. Those 38 wins in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center, and 57 in total, are a franchise best.
The Warriors are fully aware the difficult task at hand, but maintaining home court, especially in dire circumstances of the postseason, isn't a revolutionary strategy. Not only are the Nuggets the most proficient in the NBA, it's one of the biggest advantages in the history of the league. But Head Coach George Karl says he knows their opponent, who is making only their second playoff appearance in since 1993, won't come to Denver and concede the initial two victories.
"They aren't going to come in here and say 'It's a home court. It's a tough place to play.' That's all out the window," Karl admitted. "We've proven it's our home court but now we have to prove it every game."
The Nuggets can affirm their home court supremacy, and not even have to win on the road to move past Golden State. But they will likely need to steal a game on the road in the second round, baring a Los Angeles Lakers upset over San Antonio.
Controlling your home floor is all well and good but winning on the road in the playoffs, Denver was only 19-22 (actually the exact same record as the Warriors) away from home, is necessary to make a push for the Larry O'Brien trophy.
"We want to play our game regardless. We're not trying to prove anybody wrong," said Lawson. "We're just trying to play our game and get wins and win a championship."
That journey begins Saturday, on their home turf.