Game: Memphis vs Denver
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (10-10), Denver (14-6)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Denver – Andre Miller, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Nenê, Timofey Mozgov
The Grizzlies dropped yet another game last night, this time to the Spurs who were coming off a tough overtime loss to Dallas the night before. Memphis has now lost four in a row, after their seven-game win streak the preceded that. They needed to beat Phoenix on Saturday night and failed to do so. Now, they face a steady diet of good teams who wont make things easy at all. To wit, here is the upcoming schedule for the next week: Denver, @Atlanta, @OKC, @Boston, San Antonio. Tough doesn’t even begin to describe that.
The Grizzlies offensive output against San Antonio was pitiful. They failed to score 20 points in a quarter until the final stanza, when the outcome had already been decided. O.J. Mayo and Quincy Pondexter were the only ones to act like they had a notion of how to score, as the team shot 37% for the game (29.3% minus that duo’s contributions) and committed 17 turnovers. They were outrebounded, were more than doubled up on assists, and allowed the Spurs to hit 10/24 3-pointers. In other words, they got beaten in nearly every aspect of the game.
Denver, on the other hand comes into town off a loss to the Clippers on Sunday night that snapped their six-game winning streak. They trail only division rival OKC for best record in the West right now, in fact. They’re a team that is moving in the right direction. Despite their lack of star power, the Nuggets are playing hard for George Karl every single night – and the results are showing up in the standings and the stats, where they lead the league in scoring at nearly 106 points per game.
For the Grizzlies to win, they are going to have to get a consistent performance from the entire team. The starters especially will have to play well, as they will be matched up with quality opponents at nearly every position. Rudy Gay will obviously have to at least hit a FG (something he failed to do last night), and Mike Conley will have to convert more of his shots in the paint (1 of 6). Likewise, Marc Gasol and Marreese Speights will need to be hitting their mid-range jumpers to help draw the Denver frontcourt out of the paint to open up driving lanes and backdoor cuts.
For Denver to win, they need to continue to play solid, all-around team basketball (5 players average double-digits in scoring) and push the tempo whenever possible. On defense, they need to key on forcing the Grizzlies into iso plays, rather than allowing them ball movement and driving lanes. Gallinari has to make Rudy Gay work on defense whenever possible, as well.
Prediction: Denver wins a close game (because the Nuggets always seem to beat us at home).