WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), JaMychal Green (Out, jaw), Omri Casspi (Questionable, Knee)
DENVER- Isaiah Thomas (Out, hip)
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr, Marc Gasol
DENVER- Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic
After their west coast road trip, the team comes back home Wednesday night. The Memphis Grizzlies return to host the red-hot Denver Nuggets. Memphis will need flush that 1-2 record out of their system and look to straighten things up back at home. The team is undefeated at home as they always hope to have things clicking on all cylinders here.
The Nuggets are an impressive 9-1 and coming off an excellent home win against the Boston Celtics. In this one, Jamal Murray carried them with 48 points. He needs to be a point of emphasis for the Grizzlies defense tonight in this contest. Another fun storyline that will be addressed in more detail later on is that of Nikola Jokic and how his game is so dynamic similar to Marc Gasol. It will be very fun watching those two battle it out.
The Grizzlies will have their hands full with Denver. They need to come out quick and get the crowd into early. Denver does not play the best defense, so the Grizzlies will be able to get in a rhythm offensively. Before the two slipups against the Suns and Warriors, the Grizzlies were playing great basketball and getting results that showed. This would be an impressive home win that the Grizzlies could hold in high regards if they can beat Denver tonight.
Here are two things to note before tonight’s matchup:
Jokic vs. Gasol
Marc Gasol (And of course his brother Pau) was one of the first centers to bring the European game overseas to the NBA. He brought the technical passing and long-range shots to the center position. Before Gasol, it was the bully-ball, physical center who dominated the position. And now, we view Gasol as one of the best passing big men in the league with skills that other big men do not possess.
Nikola Jokic is someone who fits the Gasol brand. He is a finesse big who is averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game. Jokic is a pass first big man who has been compared to Marc throughout his young career. In Utah two games ago, he casually had 16 assists. The Joker has modeled his game in what Gasol has laid a foundation in the current NBA.
For tonight, it will be a delight to see these two pitted against each other. They will both know how the other plays and possibly how to defend against it. Gasol also seems to give little more against Jokic because he knows he is the teacher in this scenario, so Jokic can never have the upper hand. The one thing Gasol can exploit is Jokic’s defense. He has not quite learned the defensive side of the ball as Gasol has.
If you want to watch a battle within the game, key in on these two throughout. It will be entertaining from start to finish.
Slowing the Pace
This game will be a good contrast of styles. Memphis, of course, is defense first as Denver appreciates the fast pace and flying up and down the court scoring in bunches. Something has to give. As we saw in Monday’s matchup at Golden State, Memphis can do a good job slowing down even the best offense. The difference in this one is the ability to continue that solid defense for a full game.
Memphis will thrive at home slowing down things and playing their style of basketball. This will be a huge determining factor if they want a win tonight. Jamal Murray is hot, Jokic can facilitate or score on his own, and they also have Gary Harris who can carry the load as well. That is a lot of weapons to have to contain, but with another top-10 defensive rating for the Grizzlies, they can get it done tonight.
My prediction is that the Grizzlies lose in this one unfortunately. The Nuggets have been red hot, and everyone on their team is scoring in bunches. Memphis does have the ability to slow them down, but the question will be for how long. The Grizzlies have been slacking on offense as of late, and that is with Marc and Mike not playing as well as they can be.
This could be the game where they dominate and play the game at their level, but I am not sure I see them keeping up with the Nuggets offense.
Spread: Nuggets -4. Take the Nuggets in this one. I can see this game starting out close with the teams feeling each other out and the home court advantage for Memphis. However, around the late third, early fourth, the Nuggets will pull away.
Memphis- 105, Denver- 117