What: Nuggets at Grizzlies
Where: FedEx Forum
Time: 7:00PM CT, 8:00PM EST
Injuries: Wilson Chandler (Out)
Sure, the Grizzlies are coming off what may just be the best 8-game stretch of basketball in the history of the franchise, but now isn't the time to sit back and rest on the fact that we enter the week as the top team in the NBA.
Tonight, the Grizzlies will put their 8-game winning streak on the line against the Denver Nuggets, who are a better basketball team than their 4-6 record might indicate.
What the Grizzlies have going in their favor is that the Nuggets have been just terrible on the road, posting a 2-5 record to date, while the Grizzlies are undefeated (4-0) at the FedEx Forum.
For all the talk about the Grizzlies and they're hot start, a team like the Nuggets concerns me because of their athleticism and ability to run up the score. They're not traditional in how they run their offensive sets, which might cause some fits for the Grizzlies. They're a super quick and athletic team and they have plenty of threats from the 3-point line.
Also, they've yet to really hit their stride, so it seems like any "any day now" situation where it all just clicks for them. Let's hope that day isn't today...
KEYS TO THE GAME
Continue to play our game: Again, with a tempo'd team like the Nuggets (9th in the league in Pace), we can't let this get into an up-and-down track meet. We saw this in the second half against the Bobcats when they started to make their run. It was a lot of kicks and push, something where we're better suited playing a settled down tempo -- with the ability to pick off balls and play trap and cheat defense in the halfcourt.
- Paint, Paint, Paint: Denver is ranked 29th in the NBA in points allowed to opposing frontcourts, at 63.9 points per game. This is our sweet spot. We need to work it in to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph as often as possible. Again, the Nuggets are quick and crafty on the defensive end, but they aren't necessarily big and they don't have the bodies to push around the likes of Gasol and Z-Bo. This is going to be a major key for us.
- Contain the Denver backcourt: Ty Lawson has been underwhelming this season, and our hope is to contain him tonight and keep this from being his "found it!!" game. A lot of where Lawson succeeds is in his quickness and athleticism. It's going to be on Mike Conley to stick with him and keep him from playing a penetrate-and-kick kind of game, finding the open shooters.
Limit the offensive rebounds: The Nuggets are first in the league in offensive rebounding, averaging 16.4 per game. The Grizzlies are going to need to make sure that they don't get so many second looks.
- Turnovers: Denver is 24th in the league in turnovers, which is a game we do want to get into with them. Our strength is in forcing turnovers and picking steals, so we need to continue to make it so Denver is making bad passes -- or even extra passes -- and win the turnover battle.
I'm excited about this one. I mean, I don't want to see Denver get it going tonight, but once they do they're going to be a tough matchup and a fun team to watch. Let's just hope they don't go off tonight. A 9-game winning streak just sounds so damn good!
For more on the Nuggets: Denver Stiffs