Grizzlies vs. Nuggets preview: Biggest game of the season for Kenneth Faried, teammates?

Gallo could use a big night against the Grizzlies. - Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It has already been a crazy week of hoops for the Nuggets. A business like win in Phoenix and an emotional lopsided victory over the Knicks. What could be bigger? A freakin' bear could! A Grizzly bear!

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2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 66
Memphis Grizzlies (2005 - Pres)
vs
Denver Nuggets (2009 - Pres)
44-19 (19-11 on the road)
2-1 DEN
42-22 (20-3 at home)
March 15th, 2013 - 7:00 PM (MT)
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM
Probable Starters
Mike Conley PG Ty Lawson
Tony Allen SG Andre Iguodala
Tayshaun Prince SF Danilo Gallinari
Zach Randolph PF Kenneth Faried
Marc Gasol C Kosta Koufos
Notes
Grizzly Bear Blues Blogs Denver Stiffs
Darrell Arthur is day-to-day with a neck/back Injuries None
Grizz are 14-1 in their last 15 games Stat Nuggets are 11-4 in their last 15 games (10 wins in a row for Denver)

Any and all 14-1 stretches in the NBA have to be respected. It takes incredible effort and focus to put up that mark. Over those 15 games, the Grizzlies are 3-1 against teams currently slated to go to the playoffs and 3-0 against teams still in the playoff hunt (Mavericks and Blazers).

The Nuggets are 6-2 in their last 15 games against teams currently slated to go to the playoffs and 1-0 against teams still in the playoff hunt. So, for those scoring at home -- the Grizzlies are 6-1 in big games during their current steak and the Nuggets are 7-2.

The above is just one reason why tonight's game is a marquee match-up and also why it's a travesty that ESPN or TNT are not airing the contest. Why not pick up games that have major playoff implications?

As I just mentioned, this game also has big playoff implications. Tonight's contest decides if the Nuggets win the season series or if the Grizzlies can even things up. As of now, the Nuggets own the third tiebreaker (if things went that far in a tiebreaker scenario) as Denver owns the better conference record at 29-11 to 24-13.

George Karl had some interesting things to say about Memphis at practice on March 14th. Karl pointed out that his team has yet to top 100 points against the Grizz, but they are 2-1 against them. This will be the Nuggets first game against Memphis without Rudy Gay (remember Gay defeated the Nuggets in Toronto on Feb. 12th).

"People forget, they've built their attitude without Rudy," said Karl. "They were good with Rudy, but I don't think they were afraid to change and the economics of the situation said to change."

What Karl, and anyone paying attention, has seen is that Memphis is even tougher now defensively with the addition of Prince.

"When we had Melo I thought Tayshaun Prince covered him as well as anyone in basketball," said Karl. "You bring another defender with Conley and Allen on the perimeter with Gasol hanging out in the paint, you bring in these role guys that fight hard and compete like Lionel [Hollins] wants them to compete, and all the sudden you don't have any holes -- there's no holes in their defense.

"They have good defenders at every position," Karl said. "Gasol controls the paint. [He] doesn't let the ball get there very well. They have got great defensive hands with great defensive intensity. They believe they are gonna beat you with their defense."

But just because Memphis has been elite defensively, that doesn't mean the Nuggets will change anything about their style.

"Our guards have to be very cautious of how to attack them," said Karl. "We have to attack them because that's how we play, but we got to be simple and fundamental."

The Grizzlies have only allowed one opponent to reach 100-points or more against them in their last 15 games -- the Kings scored 101 on them, but Memphis got 108 on Feb. 12th. That's 12 straight games of less than 98 points and eight out of 15 games where opponents couldn't muster more than 88 points against them, and one win where the final score was 76-72 (vs. the Nets in Brooklyn on Feb. 24th).

"Offensively they are not great," said Karl. "But they're not bad either."

The offense flows through Conley, Z-Bo, and Gasol, but the three take turns carrying the team and they get nice contributions from Prince, Jerryd Bayless, Quincy Pondexter, and Tony Allen.

"Their offensive personality is a little bit like us," said Karl. "They are going to throw the ball in the post a lot, but you don't know who is going to be their guy tomorrow. Is it gonna be Bayless? Is it gonna be Conley? Is it gonna be Pondexter? Is it gonna be Allen? Is it gonna be Tayshaun? And they play such good defense, they don't need three or four of those guys. They only need two or three of those guys to jump into the game."

So, like the Nuggets - it's about the team over the individual, but different individuals will step up from night-to-night. I've been looking forward to this game for weeks. It's a big contest and even though the Nuggets are 2-1 against Memphis, they have yet to play this edition with Prince aboard.

Get to Pepsi Center if you can, fire up the DVR, get to a restaurant, grab the binoculars to see your neighbors TV, but be sure not to miss this game. (And if you do, we'll have a recap up!)

Biggest game to date for the Nuggets and for the Grizzlies.

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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