WHEN: 8:00 P.M. CT
WHERE: Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Kyle Anderson (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Desmond Bane (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Dillon Brooks (Out, ankle), Killian Tillie (Out, Health and Safety Protocols)
Denver: Bryn Forbes (Not injury related, Game time decision), JaMychal Green (Health and Safety Protcols, OUT), Michael Porter Jr. (OUT), Jamal Murray (OUT)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
Denver: Will Barton, Jeff Green, Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, Nikola Jokic
The Memphis Grizzlies are back in action tonight following a tough loss on Wednesday night to the Milwaukee Bucks — after getting close late in that one. That loss broke their road winning streak of seven games, all despite being short handed. Looking at the flip side of tonight’s matchup, the Denver Nuggets come in to tonight’s matchup riding a high following a 130-128 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at home.
Nikola Jokic dropped 49 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in that game. Jokic wasn’t the only Nugget that stuffed the stat sheet against the Clippers, as Monte Morris dropped 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. Despite missing several big pieces, the Nuggets are battling in the rugged Western Conference, currently sitting in sixth place. Tonight, number three in the West will face off against number six in the west. How do the Grizzlies bounce back tonight in Denver?
Altitude will play a role tonight
It’s no secret that there is always an issue for opposing teams playing in Denver. The altitude destroys any kind of stamina. Even the best athletes in the world struggle to play consistently hard for 48 minutes in Denver. For the Grizzlies, given their rotations, or lack thereof, it will play a huge role. The Grizzlies are also missing some pivotal pieces, so their depth will play a huge role, as you’d expect Taylor Jenkins to give guy more consistent breaks given the altitude.
A team that plays as up-tempo as the Grizzlies will have to make every transition opportunity count tonight, or they’ll run themselves out of the gym.
Bench Unit has to Produce
Tyus Jones absence was evident in the Grizzlies’ Wednesday night loss to the Bucks. Due to the circumstances, it appears that the Grizzlies are rolling with Jarrett Culver as the bench unit point guard. Culver played well Wednesday night, but that obviously isn’t something he’s used to.
Look for Jenkins to use De’Anthony Melton as the point guard off the bench in half-court sets. Melton has been struggling offensively since his return from health and safety protocols. This feels like a game where Melton gets back on track. He showed signs of returning to normal on Wednesday night defensively for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies starters matchup well with the Nuggets. The offensive showdown will be fun between Jokic and Morant. It’ll be interesting to see if the Grizzlies try and double-team Jokic off the weakside — similar to how they defended Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday night. Jokic can create so well for other out of double teams (see the game winner Jokic created on Wednesday night for Denver).
At the end of the day, it will come down to how the Grizzlies mange their possessions, or as Jenkins would say “their habits.” The Grizzlies have an opportunity tonight to get back on track. I expect it to come down to whose bench unit produces the best. I expect De’Anthony Melton to lead the Grizzlies bench unit. You should expect the Grizzlies to steal one in Denver.
Memphis 118, Denver 111