Denver now heads into what was supposed to be the sure thing on this road trip, a date with the Memphis Grizzlies. However, it is the Nuggets fifth game in seven nights and Memphis knows it.
The Grizzlies have won three of their last four at home, with the only loss coming to Boston. It may be difficult getting for Memphis fans to get excited about wins over New Jersey, Charlotte and Sacramento (who played without Ron Artest and Brad Miller), but they are still home wins that help build confidence. Memphis will give Denver its best shot tonight, it just better not be enough to pull off the upset.
This is a huge game for Denver. A win gives them a 3-2 road trip and now both Golden State and Dallas are in their sights. A loss would be nearly devastating though making the road tip a 2-3 crap fest and ensuring that the Nuggets fail to gain ground or keep pace with Golden State even though they were playing Memphis.
Rudy Gay is playing well having broken out of a mini slump that saw him score single digits in two out of three games, including their loss in Denver. He has put up 25, 24 and 24 since then. Mike Miller has been playing well since his return from injury earlier in the month. Juan Carlos Navarro has a string of six straight double digit scoring games can tie his NBA high of seven straight tonight. Hakim Warrick is continuing to play solid ball since the departure of Pau Gasol and even Darko Milicic had 19 points, ten boards and three blocks last time out.
Mike Conley, Jr. played very poorly in Denver apparently vastly underestimating Marcus Camby’s ability to raise his arm over his head as Marcus blocked a handful of Conley’s lay up attempts. Add in Kyle Lowry’s consistently mediocre play and Memphis has not had the best point guard play this season.
Denver must make sure that they get up on Memphis early or else they may end up with a dog fight on their hands. The Grizzlies are vastly overmatched, but they know if Denver has to play hard for all four quarters, they may be able to steal one.
The Nuggets bench will have to play well again so that the starters do not have to carry the full load. Chucky Atkins is very well rested and he may get the call tonight to put up some important minutes against his former team. J.R. Smith can run all day long and Linas Kleiza has played less than 20 minutes a game on the road trip so far.
As much as the games in New Jersey and Toronto were must win games tonight really is equally important. Giving this one away at this point in the season could really hurt. With all that being said, look for Denver to follow their typical script against a weak opponent on the road allowing Memphis to hang around and make this one much more difficult that it needs to be.
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