Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Denver Nuggets
When: 7 PM CT
Where: FedEx Forum
How to Listen: 92.9 ESPN Memphis
How to Watch: FoxSports Southeast
More on the Nuggets: Denver Stiffs
Recently From Denver:
A 78-74 win on the road for Denver against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night snapped their six game losing streak. Now, the Nuggets sit at 13-23 and would love nothing more than to grab another road win when they visit FedEx Forum tonight. In Wednesday night's win, Danilo Gallinari led all Denver players with 20 points. Former Grizzly Darrell Arthur had 7 points off the bench. Kenneth Faried had a rough showing with only 3 points and was only 1-8 from the field. For the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 14 points.
Recently From Memphis:
Loss, loss, win, win, loss, win, loss. That's the results of Memphis' last seven games. After falling to the OKC Thunder in a blowout loss (112-94), Memphis sits at 19-18. But now more so than ever, the Grizzlies face many tough questions. Mike Conley sat out Wednesday night's game due to an Achilles injury, and Joerger chose a point guard-less starting lineup. The Grizzlies just signed Elliot Williams from the D League to a ten day contract and waived center Ryan Hollins to make room for him. This signifies the immediate need of an extra point guard, and the likely scenario of Conley sitting out for now. It seems the Grizzlies should make a big roster move. But unless a favorable offer comes their way, the Grizzlies have to find success with the players they have now. Especially if Mike Conley is out an extended period of time, Marc Gasol has to step up as the Grizzlies' leader. And players like Mario Chalmers, who played extremely well Wednesday, will need to pick up the slack at the point guard position. After a three game road trip, the Grizzlies finally return home. They'll need to find their mojo again in the Grindhouse.
Keys to Victory:
1. "Aggressive" Marc Gasol Needs To Step Forward
Marc Gasol hasn't reach the ten point mark in either of the last two games. In the month of January, Gasol is shooting 30.2% from the field. Granted, the Grizz have only played three games this month, but Gasol has shown inconsistency this whole season. His numbers haven't been what they should be for an All-Star, and he's been quiet in too many games as of late. Regardless if Mike Conley is out for a while or not, Gasol needs to return to his All-Star ways. He needs to be more aggressive on offense and take control of the game when the Grizzlies need him to. Tonight, he'll be facing Jusuf Nurkic. Many Grizz fans remember last year when Memphis played in Denver and Nurkic and Gasol had some tense moments. Tonight is a great chance for "Aggressive Marc" to return once again.
2. Protect The Boards
The Denver Nuggets are ranked 9th in the league in rebounding rate (50.9), while Memphis is tied for 22nd (48.7). The Grizzlies have struggled with rebounding this season, and this issue has allowed many of Memphis' opponents too many extra possessions and second chance points. With the Grizzlies yet again lacking a true backup center after waiving Ryan Hollins, everyone will need to pitch in and do a better job at boxing out the Denver players in tonight's match up. Rebounding will be crucial in determining tonight's outcome.
3. Contain Danilo Gallinari
On the season, Danilo Gallinari is averaging an impressive 18 points, 2.8 assists, and 5.9 rebounds. Jeff Green and Matt Barnes will have their hands full tonight, and it's imperative for the Grizz to keep him from going off big for the Nuggets. Jeff Green is not known for his defense, but Matt Barnes needs to do a good job at containing Gallinari, especially if Barnes starts like he did on Wednesday night. In wins, Gallinari averages 21 PPG and shoots 48.4% from the field. On the other hand, in losses Gallinari averages only 16 PPG and shoots 34.8% from the field. The bottom line is to limit Gallinari.
While Mike Conley is likely out tonight, Memphis has the players to step up and handle business at home tonight against a struggling Denver Nuggets team. If Marc Gasol shows up big tonight, that bodes well for Memphis. The Grizzlies have to do a good job on limiting Danilo Gallinari. If Grizz Nation needs anything, they need a home-run effort by the home team. The Grizzlies should show up big in front of their home crowd tonight after a three game road trip. Grizz Nation is full of frustration and confusion as to what the Grizzlies can and will do in the future, but a big showing tonight in Memphis would ease their fans. Mario Chalmers will need to give another solid performance tonight if Conley is out again.
Memphis 94 Denver 88