Preview: Nuggets look to clinch a playoff spot against the Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies v Denver Nuggets
Photo by Ethan Mito/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images

Will Denver capture their first win against Memphis this season?

The Denver Nuggets will battle the Memphis Grizzlies at Ball Arena tonight as they look to seize a playoff birth. The Grizzlies do not share that problem because they are locked into that two seed. Ja Morant has not played since mid-March, and without him, they have won eight of their last nine games. Although they are fresh off a loss to the Jazz, Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. all scored 20+ points. This team is as deep as they come, and they might be the most confident team in the league, so the Nuggets will have their hands full tonight.

The Nuggets are coming off a disappointing loss to the Spurs at home, so they will look to rectify their home struggles tonight. Nikola Jokic recorded another MVP performance, but he did not receive any help other than Aaron Gordon. Their 3rd highest scorer in that game was Will Barton with nine points, so look for a bounce-back game from the Denver role players tonight.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (47-33, 22-17 home) vs Memphis Grizzlies (55-24, 26-14 away)

When: 7:00 PM MT

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Grizzly Bear Blues

Expected Starting Lineups:

MEM: PG Tyus Jones, SG Desmond Bane, SF Ziaire Williams, PF Jaren Jackson Jr., C Steven Adams

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Austin Rivers, SF Will Barton, PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Jamal Murray (out), Michael Porter Jr. (out), Jeff Green (questionable), Zeke Nnaji (out), Vlatko Cancar (out), Ja Morant (out), Tyrell Terry (questionable), Dillon Brooks (questionable), Killian Tillie (out),

Three Keys

Resurrect the home magic

Denver will have two more chances to revive some momentum at home, and a win tonight would bring much-needed confidence at Ball Arena. The Nuggets will actually have a better road record than home this season. The home crowd is always looking for opportunities to erupt, but they can’t do so throughout the game if they produce as they did against the Spurs. Home court advantage is critical in the playoffs, and the Nuggets need to find a way to dominate in their arena.

Balanced production

Gordon and Jokic cannot be the only players in double figures. The veterans like Morris and Barton need to provide some punch because this Grizzlies offense is relentless. Jokic also shot 35 times against San Antonio, which is not how the Nuggets like playing basketball. They need to return to their identity of great ball movement, and shooters must capitalize on their open looks, or Jokic might not trust them as much when the game is on the line.

Consistent counter punches

Wherever the Grizzlies find success, the Nuggets need to counter that. If Memphis is hot from three, Denver should either match it or dominate in the paint and vice versa. The Grizzlies have been an outstanding paint team all season, so if the Nuggets cannot counter their relentless style of play, they will run them out of the gym. Denver’s defense continues to struggle with each outing, so I would not expect an effective defensive showing. Unfortunately, that puts all the burden on the offense, and they might need another 120+ point outing tonight.

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