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Memphis Grizzlies vs Denver Nuggets Game Preview

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The Grizzlies head to Denver to battle The Joker, Jamal, and the Denver Nuggets.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (15-10, 7-6 away) vs. Denver Nuggets (17-9, 9-3 at home )

WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

WHEN: 8:00 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, knee), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)

Denver Nuggets: Paul Millsap (Out, foot), Gary Harris (Out,Hip), Will Barton (Out,Hip), Isaiah Thomas (Out,Hip)

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Garret Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol

Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Torrey Craig, Trey Lyles, Juan Hernangomez

Does anyone have a Neuralizer? It is the memory erasing light-up stick from Men In Black.

The Grizzlies needed to take a team selfie with one after Saturday Night.

Whether or not anyone has Will Smith on speed dial, the Grizzlies simply need to treat Saturday night’s blowout loss to the Lakers as a forgettable outlier and move forward. The good news for Memphis is they have responded quite well to poor performances this year. After their opening night debacle against Indiana, the Grizzlies won five out of six before losing by 16 to the Warriors on November 5th. The Grizzlies response to that loss was winning seven out of their next eight.

A highly intelligent and cohesive roster is the reason the Grizzlies can effectively respond to bad losses. Both of those traits will need to be on full display as the Grizzlies travel to Denver to meet the Nuggets on Monday Night. A big storyline to this game for Memphis is the health of Mike Conley. Conley’s uncharacteristic performance against the Lakers was likely due to dislocating is right pointer finger in New Orleans on Friday night. If Conley’s availability is limited, the Grizzlies’ must be highly efficient on both ends on the court to succeed against the second best team in the West.

While Conley’s injury is troubling for Memphis, it pales in comparison to the recent adversities in Denver. Over the past week, the Nuggets have lost Gary Harris and Paul Millsap to injuries that could keep both players out for more than a month. The loss of Millsap is especially troubling, as a team that relies on the talent of its front court has lost a big component to its success. The injury situation could become even more drastic if Jamal Murray’s shin keeps him out of tonight’s game. In the likely event he plays, the duo Murray and Nikola Jokic certainly allows Denver to remain a formidable foe. However, back to back losses against inferior opponents in Charlotte and Atlanta proves the injures are significantly impacting the Nuggets.

Some Keys to Victory for Memphis:

Keep it Simple. The Grizzlies defeated the Nuggets 89-87 back on November 7th. The key to that victory was outstanding defense against Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Marc Gasol’s effort was no laughing matter, as he stifled the Joker all night long. Jokic did not attempt a shot until two seconds left in regulation, and produced an offensive rating of 64 compared to a season mark of 118. Without Harris and Millsap, the Nuggets will likely need to run the offense through Murray and Jokic more than usual.

While both players are talented, the lack of reliable options for Denver narrows the focus of an elite Grizzlies’ defense that should be highly disruptive.

Feature the Front Court. With the recent addition of Joakim Noah and effective play of Jamychal Green, the quality depth of the Grizzlies front court has become a clear strength. With Conley limited, the priority should be to find prosperity in the paint for Memphis. This is especially true for Jaren Jackson Jr. The phenom had one of his best offensive performances in the previous game against Denver. With Jokic likely focused on Marc, Jackson Jr. should find plenty of success getting high percentage looks near the basket.

Efficient post play should give the Grizzlies a good chance to win.

Limit Rebounds. The Lakers grabbed 69 rebounds against the Grizzlies Saturday night. That was the second highest total for team Rebounds in the NBA this season. Furthermore, it was the second highest team rebound total against the Grizzlies’ in their franchise history. Denver comes into this game third in the league in offensive rebounds and seventh in total rebounds. Even without Millsap, Jokic, Trey Lyles, and Juan Hernangomez can grab 30 to 40 boards on any given night.

Memphis cannot afford to allow the Nuggets to have second chance looks, especially with Jokic’s passing ability from the low post. The Grizzlies should have the size advantage for a good portion of the game, and must box out to limit Denver’s possessions.

In what should be a low scoring affair, the Grizzlies’ defense should once again be the key difference in a hard earned victory.

Grizzlies 95 - Nuggets 89

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Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com