WHEN: 4:00 PM CT
WHERE: Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
DENVER: Bol Bol (Out, foot)
Projected Starting Lineups:
Memphis: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
Denver: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic
The Grizzlies post-Christmas road trip continues with a trip to the Mile High City to face off against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are coming off a Christmas Day loss to the New Orleans Pelicans while the Grizzlies are coming off a win against the Thunder on Thursday night.
The Nuggets routed the Grizzlies in their first matchup of the season in Memphis behind a dominant game from Jamal Murray. The Nuggets led by as much as 33 points and were all over the Grizzlies right from tipoff.
Here’s what the Grizzlies will need to do to get redemption, or at least have a more competitive game:
Control the Pace
The Nuggets and Grizzlies play contrasting styles of basketball. The Nuggets style of play is similar to that of the GNG Grizzlies, with Jokic running the offense through the elbow the way Marc Gasol used to do so for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, like to run up and down the court as much as possible. The Nuggets controlled the pace in the first game turning in an efficient offensive performance. The Grizzlies will need to keep the game up-tempo and try and get easy buckets in the fast break to get guys like Ja and Jaren in a good offensive rhythm.
If the Grizzlies can make the Nuggets uncomfortable, they’ll have a shot at keeping the game close.
Contain the Stars
The Grizzlies did a pretty good job of limiting a disengaged Nikola Jokic in the first matchup, but Jamal Murray did more than pick up the slack en route to 39 points, 8 assists and 3 steals. The Grizzlies will need to be sure to lock up the Nuggets dynamic duo if they hope to win this afternoon. With Valanciunas, JJJ and Clarke, the Grizzlies have a solid trio to throw off Jokic but with Kyle Anderson seemingly out of Jenkins’ main rotation, Murray has the chance to feast again on the Grizzlies defense.
Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder and Tyus Jones among others will need to step it up and not give Murray easy looks to allow him to go off again.
The Nuggets are one of the NBA’s best teams for a reason. Even if you can slow down Jokic and Murray, they have a handful of guys capable of picking up the slack in Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap. They also have a solid bench featuring Monte Morris, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee capable of putting in good performances. The Grizzlies have proven though that they can hang with the best of them when they’re clicking, with a few signature wins as well as competitive performances.
I expect the Grizzlies to play much better this time around, but will ultimately fall short in the Mile High City.
Denver 114 Memphis 105