WHEN: 4:00 PM CT
WHERE: Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Denver- Kenneth Faried (Questionable, back)
Grizzlies - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Nuggets- Jameer Nelson, Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Nikola Jokic
After not making any moves at the trade deadline, the Memphis Grizzlies came out flat Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.
This afternoon, the Grizzlies will look to turn things around against a Denver Nuggets team that is always difficult to beat in the Mile High City. Last time these two teams met, the Grizzlies dominated the game resulting in a 119-99 win against the Nuggets who were without Nikola Jokic and Will Barton due to injuries. The Nuggets also lost Jameer Nelson just over 4 minutes into the game with two quick technical fouls, resulting in his ejection. How can the Grizzlies rebound from Friday nights loss against the Pacers?
Here are a few things to look at.
Get the Big Guys Going
The Grizzlies shot poorly Friday night with Gasol and Randolph shooting a combined 9-28 from the field, missing all 4 of their attempts beyond the arc. The Grizzlies will need more efficiency from these two if they want to succeed against a Nuggets team that is better defending the paint after the acquisition of Mason Plumlee. If it’s another slow night for the Gasol/Randolph combo, the Grizzlies will need a big game from Mike Conley if they want to head back to Memphis with a win.
The Grizzlies have yet to see for themselves the monster that is Nikola Jokic. The first matchup between these two was early in the season when the Nuggets were still trying to figure out if Jokic and Josef Nurkic could play together. Jokic has been on an absolute tear since Nurkic was sent to the bench, and eventually to Portland. This season he is averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists giving Marc Gasol competition for best passing big man in the NBA.
The Nuggets rely heavily on Jokic to score and facilitate, if Gasol and JaMychal can slow down Jokic, it will be a long night for the Nuggets.
Tony Allen was arguably the Grizzlies best player Friday night against the Pacers scoring 11 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. The Grizzlies, and TA, are at their best when they are able to force turnovers and get easy baskets. It’s hard to do that when a team shoots 52% from the field and outrebounds you by 5 like the Pacers did on Friday. The Nuggets turn the ball over 15.4 times a game, which puts them in the bottom five in the league in that category.
Look for TA and the Grizz to try and bait young guys like Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and turnover machine Emmanual Mudiay into silly mistakes that lead to layups on the other end.
The Nuggets are 1-1 since the break, with a blowout loss to the new look Sacramento Kings followed by a blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets. The Grizzlies need to attack the Nuggets early and often to force turnovers. Once the game slows down, look for Conley to control the offense and try and get Gasol some early baskets to get him going.
The Nuggets are a tough squad fighting for their playoff lives, but the Grizzlies are fighting to improve their playoff seeding and avoid the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets (although a Rockets matchup would be competitive and entertaining). The Grizzlies experience will help them prevail in a close game against a scrappy Nuggets squad.
MEMPHIS 108, DENVER 102