WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Bruno Caboclo (Out, Left Knee Soreness); Grayson Allen (Out, Hip); Jae Crowder (Questionable, Knee)
DENVER- Bol Bol (Out, Foot); Jamal Murray (Out, Ankle); Paul Millsap (Out, Knee); Mason Plumlee (Out, Foot)
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
DENVER- Gary Harris, Torrey Craig, Will Barton, Jerami Grant, Nikola Jokic
The Grizzlies are back in action Tuesday night and try to continue this success against the Denver Nuggets. The Grizzlies are coming off a somber win Sunday playing after the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing. Even as the Grizzlies took home the win, no one felt good after the game. This did create another Memphis win streak, however, beating the Detroit Pistons and the Phoenix Suns. Now, they go up against one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
The Denver Nuggets come in on a two-game win streak of their own created from a Sunday night win against the Houston Rockets. They are currently sitting at the three-seed, but only one games back of the outright two-seed. The Nuggets are once again contending for the Western Conference throne. Although, now the team is pretty banged up with injuries across the roster.
These two teams have played twice before this season, with the Nuggets getting the better of the Grizzlies both at home and away. Both contests were a dominant victory for the Nuggets with the first game Jamal Murray going off for 39 points and in the second Nikola Jokic having a 31-point triple double. Luckily, for the Grizzlies, Murray is out for this one with an ankle injury he sustained a few weeks back.
This once again will be a measuring stick moment for this young Grizzlies team. They need to start contending with these top teams in the West if their playoff dreams are to become a reality, and this is a perfect chance to take advantage of a depleted roster. They have the support of the home crowd behind them, so the Grizzlies need to take that and run with it in this game.
Here are two things to watch in this one:
Interior defense against Nikola Jokic
Without Murray playing, most of the scoring will be expected to come from Jokic. He can do it all from the center position. Although it has been a tale of two games for the Grizzlies against Jokic. In the game in Denver, he had that 31-point triple double, however, in the game in Memphis, they held him to only 9 points. This will be the key if the Grizzlies expect to win this game.
The front court of Memphis will need to figure out how to stay with Jokic and stop his production. The first game in Memphis when he only scored 9. Valanciunas did a majority of head to head work which was unexpected. JV is a less mobile type who doesn’t like to be stretched outside of the paint. Jokic, of course, is by no means mobile, but he is still a big man averaging a high volume of three-point attempt per game. It was the downfall of the Grizzlies in Denver against him. He took five threes more than Jamal Murray or Gary Harris.
Whether it is JV or Brandon Clarke, whoever has the assignment on Jokic must deny the ball to him as much as possible. They must challenge other players on the Nuggets to win the game instead of Jokic. That’s the formula to success. Much easier said than done.
The Return of Josh Jackson
The news Monday of Grayson Allen’s injury went overshadowed with who the Grizzlies called up to take his roster spot. Josh Jackson was recalled from the Memphis Hustle and will be back playing in the NBA. It is exciting times for the former 4th overall pick out of Kansas.
Jackson played in 26 games for the Hustle this season and has averaged 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.5 blocks. It was a impressive stat line for a guy who just knows how to play pure basketball. According to Peter Edmiston of The Athletic, he apparently was going to be called up earlier, but the unexpected play of DeAnthony Melton was the reason he stayed down with the Hustle. It will be very exciting to see what Jackson can do with this opportunity.
After all is said and done, I think the Nuggets once again get the win over the Grizzlies. Memphis does not have any one to pair stylistically to slow down Jokic down low. As mentioned, Valanciunas plays a different game than this which does not fit very well. I can see Jokic having another dominant game that delivers a blow even without Jamal Murray playing.
Nuggets- Pick ‘em
Denver Nuggets will come out on top. Grizzlies will fight hard but come up just short. Take the Nuggets to win this one at good odds.
Nuggets- 118, Grizzlies- 111