WHERE: Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
WHEN: 8:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, Achilles), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
DENVER- Paul Millsap (Out, wrist)
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
DENVER- Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Mason Plumlee, Nikola Jokic
The Grizzlies head to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets Friday night. This will be the second meeting between the two teams, with Denver taking round one by a score of 104-92. The last time these two teams met, Memphis was in the middle of their 11 game losing streak. This time around, Memphis is fresh off a win against the Pelicans. Hopefully their spirits are buoyed by a recent victory and they can get a big win on the road.
Wouldn’t a winning streak be nice? Here are a few keys to the game for the Grizzlies:
Limiting the Joker
Nikola Jokic, aka The Joker, is unquestionably the best player for the Nuggets. He’s also in the middle of a scoring slump. He’s scored single digits in three of Denver’s last four, which coincides with the fact that the Nuggets come into this game on a three game losing streak. JaMychal Green did an excellent job of limiting DeMarcus Cousins the other night, and a combo of Green and Gasol could be just what Memphis needs to slow down Jokic.
Defensive focus has been an issue that has plagued Memphis all season long. Too often the Grizzlies have been caught napping on the less glamorous side of the court, giving up easy looks at the rim, wide open three point attempts and second chance opportunities. It can be attributed to many of the slow starts in games for the Grizzlies, as well as throughout the course of games. It puts the Grizzlies in holes they just can’t overcome. When Memphis is locked in on D, they’re incredibly tough to beat, but they need to stay locked in.
Third Quarter Play
The Grizzlies tend to start out slow in the first quarter before making a comeback in the second. While these slow starts aren’t necessarily the be-all end-all, it has become readily apparent that the third quarter is. 24 times Memphis has gone into the fourth quarter without a lead. Of those 24 instances, Memphis is 2-22. They are 10-4 when leading after three quarters of play. 10-4 might not sound that impressive, but it sounds a lot better than 2-22. The Grizzlies need to stay on top of Denver in the second half, because if they go into the final period with the lead, they are more likely to win than they are to lose.
My prediction for this matchup is the Grizzlies earn a rare road win. I know Memphis has not looked good away from FedExForum, but the combination of coming off a win, Denver’s recent struggles and Jokic’s in particular leave me feeling confident that our boys in blue can get it done in the Mile High.
Look for Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans to continue the torrid play we witnessed against the Pelicans and I think Dillon Brooks will have a bounce back effort coming off a rough performance Wednesday night. I don’t expect him to score 20 points, but I think he’ll do more right than wrong.
Here’s to hoping.