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Preview: The Grizzlies can dismantle the Nuggets without Mike Conley

The Memphis Grizzlies would love nothing more than an exact repeat of the previous meeting with Denver in Memphis.

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE (11:45AM CT): Since writing this preview the Nuggets have decided to rest Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and Danilo Gallinari. So now when you read my preview you should amplify anything positive about the Grizzlies' chances in this one by 5,000.)

The Memphis Grizzlies are a tepid 7-6 since the All-Star break, but are coming off a very solid performance against the Bucks over the weekend. The last time the Grizzlies hosted Denver, the Nuggets' blood stains were all over the court afterwards with the Grizzlies locking in defensively and holding Denver to just 69 points with -- yes, you're reading this number correctly -- 7.7% shooting from 3-pt land (2 of 26). But can Memphis repeat the effort against a Nuggets team averaging over 113 PPG in their last four contests?

Recently for Memphis

It's no secret that the Grizzlies have been unpleasantly up-and-down; it's been rocky out on the bay river. Dave Joerger has been shuffling through his deck of lineups in attempts to find a combination that exemplifies the way he wants his team playing right now. Memphis finally saw it come together again against the Bucks this past Saturday, thanks to shots finally falling for Courtney Lee and Beno Udrih -- and the red-blooded marvel that is Tony Allen.

Perhaps this turnaround was also due to Marc Gasol adjusting some of his dynamic with his teammates; Marc recently let it be known that he is working on being more positive when it comes to critiquing his compatriots.

Mike Conley has been sitting out games after tweaking an ankle last week in Boston, and it appears as though he'll rest again tonight.

Recently for Denver

An offensive juggernaut has emerged over their last four games, as they've taken out two of the best teams in the NBA in the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors. Danilo Gallinari is getting back to form, hitting 40% of his threes so far in the month of March, while his buddy Kenneth Faried is averaging 15/10 over the same span of time.

The Nuggets haven't played a back-to-back since last weekend, but they are coming off a double-overtime effort against the Pelicans last night and will have to dig deep to stay in the game against a rested Grizzlies team that is angry and desperate for positive momentum.

Four Things for Tonight

  • Ain't Nothing But A Thang: The previous beatdown that the Grizzlies handed Denver was a game in which Mike Conley sat out. Beno and Calathes know the drill here, and the Grizzlies should be able to replicate some of the efficiency they achieved last time (10/20 shooting and only 1 turnover between Beno & Nick).
  • Half-Man, Half-Amazing, Almost-Healthy? Vince Carter has shown a few flashes of what Grizz fans want to see since returning from his foot tendon injury a couple of weeks ago. He might not ever reach that 6th-man level VC the Grizzlies hoped they were getting, but the attainable 8 to 10 points and minimal-but-decent 3-pt shooting is extremely helpful as the Grizzlies continue to look for consistent scoring off the bench. And I, as a fan, still hold out hope for that 20-pt game from Vince. His current season-high for single-game scoring is 16 points.
  • Spring Greens: While I still think I'd rather see Tony Allen as a starter, the version of Jeff Green the Grizzlies are seeing in the month of March has been a lot more palatable. Yes, he still takes some of those mid-range jumpers, and no, they basically never go in. However, Jeff's timeliness and efficiency from long-range (37.5% from three in March) has been a pleasant surprise. Like the buttercups springing up from dead lawns across the city of Memphis, it's an encouraging sign of seasonal change for a player who will be an integral part of the Grizzlies' title run.
  • Size Could Matter: The Nuggets' starting five is tiny. Their tallest player is Danilo Gallinari at 6'10 and their heaviest is Kenneth Faried at 228 lbs. If Marc and Zach get going (which they should, and early) then this could be a really fun night.

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2015 NBA Season
46-20 (25-7 home)
26-41 (10-22 road)
March 16th, 2015
FedexForum in Memphis, Tennessee
7:00 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Beno Udrih PG (not) Ty Lawson
Courtney Lee SG Randy Foye
Jeff Green SF Wilson Chandler
Zach Randolph PF (not) Danilo Gallinari
Marc Gasol C (not) Kenneth Faried
2015 Advanced Stats
94.3 (26th) Pace 98.4 (T-4th)
103.3 (13th) OffEff 101.0 (T-21st)
100.2 (T-8th) DefEff 104.6 (T-23rd)



MIKE CONLEY - Right Ankle Sprain. Questionable


DARRELL ARTHUR - Right Soleus Strain. Probable
WILSON CHANDLER - Left Knee Soreness. Probable
JUSUF NURKIC - Right Ankle Sprain. Probable