Nuggets at Grizzlies preview: Lawson must channel his inner Westbrook

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

As thousands of Nuggets fans across the globe start reaching for the whiskey bottle, it's important to remember that not all is lost and there is still immense talent on this team. As the Nuggets face the Memphis Grizzlies, maybe all the Nuggets need to fix is one ... simple ... thing.

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4-6

8-1
November 19th, 2012, 6:00 (MT)
Fed Ex Forum - Memphis, Tennessee
TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Mike Conley PG Ty Lawson
Tony Allen
SG Andre Iguodala
Rudy Gay
SF Danilo Gallinari
Zach Randolph
PF Kenneth Faried
Marc Gasol
C Kosta Koufos
Notes
Straight Outta Vancouver
Blogs You're here!
None Injuries Julyan Stone (out), Wilson Chandler (hip) is out for tonight
Rudy Gay is leading the team in scoring with 19.8 ppg Stat Everyone on the Nuggets sucks. Trade everyone including Rocky

For some reason, the Memphis Grizzlies don't scare me. I'm not entirely sure why. They seem to be playing at an extremely high level and are rightfully earning national praise for their 8-1 start to this early NBA season. If you cornered me I'd have absolutely nothing negative to say about them. Truly. With Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Tony Allen and Mike Conley as your starting five ... well you have very little to complain about.

Yet, man I just don't know. There's something ... off ... about the Grizzlies that I just cannot put my finger on. It could be that their wins over the Nuggets last season weren't exactly overwhelming (two of which came at the last-second). A win is a win however so I'm not sure that has anything to do with it. It could be that it's because they are in Memphis and I don't get to see them that often. I have league pass, so that's no excuse.

Upon some analysis I'd have to say Marc Gasol is the engine that drives the Grizzlies high performance vehicle. Unlike the Nuggets with their dribble-drive offense which is heavily based on the point guard (more on that below), the Grizzlies seem to be going back to an old school inside out approach to basketball. With multi-fascited Gasol as the big tower from whence all things flow, this includes Zach Randolph (who never met a shot he didn't like according to Scott Hastings). Lionel Hollins has emphasized defense and toughness (maybe some over-the-line 70's-esque cheap fouls) that takes it's cue from the hard inside game of Gasol and Z-Bo.

Defense is the name of the game in Memphis. Their offense springs from their defense much like the Nuggets (when it's working) but the Grizz work a bit differently. They aren't a fast "pace" team like you see around the NBA like wildfire right now. Yet, they aren't slow. They are a grinding team that will muck you out and get you to play their game.

Yet there is something intrinsically "not trustable" (if that's even a phrase) about where the Grizz are right now. Something that makes me not quite convinced this wellspring of hope is something that will last. I just don't know. In the meantime, the Nuggets task is daunting and it would be, at this point, quite an achievement for the Nuggets to win in Memphis tonight. If they right the ship, starting tonight in Memphis won't be a bad way to kick things off.

Nuggets of Wisdom

I woke up in a cold sweat the other night. It dawned on me in the middle of the night that much of the Nuggets offensive woes of late stem from a "stall" in the dribble drive offense. The Nuggets are having a hard time bridging the gap when Ty Lawson finds the lane stacked or has one of his "passive" games (I'm willing to point out there is a distinction between the two). You see, the Nuggets are more dependent on Ty than I initially thought headed in to the season. This has been borne out in this recent three-game losing streak. The team just can't overcome Ty having a bad night anymore. Yet, I think ... with a minor adjustment things can start swinging the Nuggets way.

One vastly under-utilized part of Lawson's game is his mid-range shots. Let me explain. Teams stack the paint against the Nuggets to prevent Ty from driving to the basket, this essentially bogs down the Nuggets offense leading to long desperate low percentage shots (which very misleadingly skews shooting percentages to the negative). Take it to the bank, teams that can stack the paint will continue to do so against this team. Now, the prescription to solve that issue is to hit your outside shots. However, even these shots are of the low percentage sort, which leads to Kenneth Faried having to clean up the missed shots with put-backs (and most likely greatly inflating the Manimal's stats).

Teams tend to hedge on the picks the Nuggets set for Ty to block him from entering the lane on the drive. One way to solve this is for Lawson the channel his inner Angry Face (aka: Russell Westbrook) and start shooting. Ty has a fairly good set shot, and can use it to great affect when he shoots threes. Why not exploit the screen hedging opposing teams do by developing a mid-range shot, therefore rendering lane packing useless and drawing the defenders out. When a team hedges, just stop and pop. I have faith Ty can do this. This in turn will open up easier, higher percentage shots for Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala.

The Nuggets don't need a drastic fix. While Gallo and Iguodala have the same skill-set and basically render the other redundant, if they both settle in to roles they can overcome this redundancy and co-exist equally. Both men are too important to discard with either, so making it work is probably the Nuggets second biggest priority. However, both men will thrive if Ty can take some offensive scoring pressure by making teams pay for stacking the lane. This, will benefit all and get this team's offensive flow back in style.

Additionally, it's important to remember that ... by the Nuggets and George Karl's own admission ... the team didn't work on it's offense too much during training camp. The focus was primarily on defense. If you are looking to this space for someone who is ready to jump off the bandwagon, then you are mistaken. I firmly believe the Nuggets will be fine. They just need to change one little thing.

Also, they need to learn baskeball from these fellows. Look at that defense! If only nerf basketball translated to the NBA. You could learn a thing or two from these guys. The basketball starts at 1:05 into the vid.

FND Dailies - Baloncesto (via Fronk2107)

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