Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets will look to pick up a second win this season over Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at Pepsi Center.
Jokić had 28 points when the two teams met up earlier in the season, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to help secure the home win for the Nuggets. Kenneth Faried had 14 points and nine rebounds in the starting lineup, while Jamal Murray and Gary Harris each chipped in 15 points.
In case you haven’t heard as well, the Nuggets’ promotion tonight is a celebration of the 80s, which as a site named after a Nuggets legend from that decade, we’re in support of it too. Unfortunately, there are only a few of us with the site that were even alive for that decade, and even fewer that can remember being alive back then.
Who: Memphis Grizzlies (13-27, 5-14 away) vs Denver Nuggets (21-20, 14-5 home)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude radio AM 950
Rival blog: Grizzly Bear Blues
Injury Report: Mike Conley Jr. (out – Achilles), Chandler Parsons (out – knee); Paul Millsap (out – wrist)
Three Things To Know
The Nuggets need a win in a bad way. This month was supposed to be the month where they pocketed some wins to help them survive March, not the month where they suck and panic trade for a blue blood veteran! The Nuggets have lost three games in a row for the first time this season. There were moments during each game where the score was close, but at no point did they ever exude the feeling of, “We got this, we’re going to turn it around and win this game.”
The Nuggets have to get on a plane after this game and fly to San Antonio to play the Spurs, which is not going to be an easy game to come away with a win. The Grizzlies best player, Gasol, is countered by Jokić, and outside of Tyreke Evans, the Nuggets just have to make sure they don’t get outworked by the other players, because talent isn’t going to be an issue.
One of the Nuggets big issues during their losing streak HAS been getting outworked though. They mailed it in for their loss against the Kings. I’ll give them a pass against the Warriors, but their defense wasn’t what it needed to be for them to have a chance. They mailed it in against the Hawks, getting dominated by one of the worst teams in the league in front of their homecourt fans.
Coach Michael Malone was quite frustrated after the game, telling reporters, “We aren’t a playoff team,” and blaming himself for not adequately preparing his team for the game. Winning cures a lot, and it certainly would help them feel more confident before they board a plane for San Antonio.
Don’t get used to the current rotation. The Nuggets need to make a roster change. Torrey Craig has less than 14 DAYS before he either is signed to a guaranteed contract or released. Them’s the rules with two-way contracts. The Nuggets have 15 guaranteed contracts, and as of publishing, do not have room to add Craig with a guaranteed contract.
The trade deadline is February 8 – earlier than previous years, and NBA teams should be prepared to act before the All-Star break. The Nuggets are over the cap, but not over the luxury tax. They have two expiring contracts – Will Barton, who is a vital part of the rotation – and Richard Jefferson, who is their vet/coach.
It doesn’t seem likely that the Nuggets will make a trade this season – they don’t have any players that have currently demanded a trade this year. But that doesn’t mean one won’t occur.
The Nuggets, in my opinion, need to keep Torrey Craig on their roster. With salary cap issues looming, an early second round pick could be more valuable than a late first round pick. While trading the Memphis pick last year wasn’t ideal, if the Nuggets traded their pick this year, it wouldn’t cost them as much long term. I’m optimistic they can get rid of some of their players that aren’t contributors and turn them into players that can contribute.
The X-factor tonight is … Will Barton. The Nuggets backup guard has been huge for the team this year, filling a role as a bench scorer towards the beginning of the season before transferring to be their backup point guard. He’s struggled at times to initiate the Nuggets offense and keep his teammates involved, because his strength on offense is to attack in the pick and roll.
Against the Grizzlies, he’s not going to have to go against world-beaters on defense. If he can have an efficient night and get to the free throw line, that should help the Nuggets win fairly easily.
107-104 Grizzlies. I try to expect the worst, that way I’m prepared in case it happens, and pleased if it doesn’t.