Memphis Grizzlies vs. Denver Nuggets game preview

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (31-16, 14-7 away) at Denver nuggets (23-20, 12-8 home)

WHEN: 8:00 p.m. CST

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 (non-injury related, playing time decision), JaMychal Green (health and safety protocols, OUT), Michael Porter Jr. (OUT), Jamal Murray (OUT)


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 after a tough Wednesday night loss to the Milwaukee Bucks – after coming close late in this one. The loss ended their seven-game winning streak on the road, despite being outnumbered. Looking back to tonight’s game, the Denver Nuggets come into tonight’s game high after a 130-128 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers at home.

Nikola Jokic lost 49 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in this game. Jokic wasn’t the only Nugget to fill out the stat sheet against the Clippers, as Monte Morris dropped 19 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Despite missing several big chunks, the Nuggets are struggling in the rugged Western Conference, currently sitting in sixth place. Tonight, West number three will face West number six. How are the Grizzlies bouncing back tonight in Denver?

Altitude will play a role tonight

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s no secret that there is always a problem for opposing teams playing in Denver. Altitude destroys all types of stamina. Even the best athletes in the world struggle to consistently play 48 minutes in Denver. For the Grizzlies, given their rotations, or lack thereof, this will play a huge role. The Grizzlies are also lacking in essential 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 fast as the Grizzlies will have to make every transition opportunity count tonight or they’ll be out of the gym.

The bench unit must produce

Tyus Jones’ absence was evident in the Grizzlies’ Wednesday night loss to the Bucks. Due to the circumstances, it looks like the Grizzlies are rolling with Jarrett Culver as the bench unit point guard. Culver played well on Wednesday night, but it’s obviously not something he’s used to.

Look for Jenkins to use De’Anthony Melton as a point guard off the bench in half-court sets. Melton has struggled offensively since returning from health and safety protocols. It sounds like a game where Melton is getting back on track. He showed signs of getting back to normal on Wednesday night defensively for the Grizzlies.

The prediction

The Grizzlies starters are playing well with the Nuggets. The attacking confrontation will be fun between Jokic and Morant. It will be interesting to see if the Grizzlies try to overtake Jokic on the weak side – the same way they defended Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday night. Jokic can create for other doubles teams so well (see match winner Jokic created Wednesday night for Denver).

Ultimately, it will come down to how the Grizzlies manage their property, or as Jenkins would say “the way they do.” The Grizzlies have an opportunity tonight to get back on track. I expect it will come down to which 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

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