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Game 66 Preview & Thread: Nuggets at Grizzlies (6pm MST)

Bird_green_medium It's too bad the Nuggets wont be playing at home on St. Patty's Day, or at all on March 17th, because we'd maybe get to see some more green uniforms. Well, the Nuggets are playing this evening in Memphis, the Saturday before St. Patty's, or as it's commonly known ... the party day. Enjoy your green beer and car-bombs* and hopefully a big Nuggets road win.

The particulars ...

Records:
Denver:
44-21 (28-5 at home, 16-16 on the road)
Memphis:
35-31 (20-14 at home, 15-17 on the road)
Denver current streak: Won 5. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
Memphis current streak: Won 3. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Injuries:
Denver:
Ty Lawson (left shoulder contusion) and Kenyon Martin (left knee tendinitis) are both out tonight. Renaldo Balkman (mid-back strain) did not make the road trip with the team and may have had surgery on his back ... looking to confirm.
Memphis: Ronnie Brewer (partially torn right hamstring) is listed as day-to-day. Steven Hunter (sore left knee) is out.

Opposition's Take: Straight Outta Vancouver

Andrew often likes to remark about fights not being fair when one team is coming off a back-to-back, he has even gone as far as saying perhaps fans should get a "refund" for having to pay for such lopsided contests. Well, what would he have to say about tonight's game where both teams are coming in off a back-to-back?

Well, Andrew has been working with Denver Stiffs reader Chris Chan on an upcoming back-to-backs piece for SB Nation and shared this statistic with me:

During the 2009-10 NBA season, when both teams are coming in for the second of a back-to-back game, the home team wins 57.3% of the time.

So, if you want to take the statistical approach, the Nuggets only have a 42.7% chance of winning tonight's game. Count me among those glad that this game wont be determined on paper, but rather with sheer will and hopefully good passing and shooting for Denver.

The Grizzlies played at home last night against the New York Knicks and won the game 119-112. The Grizzlies sit just outside the playoff race in the dreaded #9 slot, right behind the Portland Trail Blazers. Can the Grizzlies catch the Blazers and make their first post-season season appearance sans Pau Gasol? They'll need to catch fire the rest of the way and that means stealing some wins at home against good teams ... teams like the Denver Nuggets.

The only catch for Memphis? The Nuggets can't afford to drop any games down the stretch as they are trying to keep pace with the red-hot Dallas Mavericks for the #2 seed. So, while each team might be a little tired after playing last night, neither can afford to play the back-to-back excuse card.

Memphis is one of the few teams that I haven't got to see play much this season. Zach Randolph's play has been lauded quite a bit this season, as well as Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol. O.J. Mayo has flown a little bit under the radar for the Grizzlies with his newfound team play, but he's still averaging 17.5 points and 3.1 assists for the Grizz.

Memphis has a pretty potent starting five, but the team doesn't really have much of a bench and as we've seen in Denver ... the bench can make all the difference. When your bench rotation features Marcus Williams, Sam Young, DeMarre Carroll, Darrell Arthur, Hamed Haddadi and rookie NBA-DL call up Hasheem Thabeet (poking a little fun at the #2 overall pick) it's easy to see why your starters average 36.5 minutes per game (with Mike Conley averaging the least minutes at 31.5 and Zach Randolph logging the most at 39.7 mpg). In comparison the Nuggets starting five average 33.4 minutes per game and we all know Denver used a very tight 8-man rotation until K-Mart's recent injury.

So if Memphis misses out on the playoffs this season it could very well be because of their lack of depth. Add a few pieces in the offseason and the Grizzlies could be a very dangerous team.

Danger would be a good word to describe this game as noted above, neither team can afford to drop many games the rest of the way. So, even though both teams are coming off a back-to-back, I expect this game to be a dogfight. Hopefully the Luck of the Irish will be with the Nuggets ... even if it's a little early and I'll cheers my car-bomb to that!

* - If for some odd reason you are not sure what a car-bomb is ... I don't know what to tell you. Please don't drink if you are under the age of 21 and a U.S. resident.

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter: Nate_Timmons

Photo courtesy of AP Photos