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Nuggets at Grizzlies: Karl's team comfortable on the road (6pm MST)

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As our reader ParkHillNative pointed out, through 20 games with a 14-6 record, we could easily see the Nuggets record breakdown being 9-1 at home and 5-5 away. George Karl loves to point out that you need to be around .500 on the road to have a successful season. Well, with a 7-3 start away from The Can, these Nuggets are just as comfortable at home as they are on the road. That's not good news for the struggling Memphis Grizzlies tonight at the Fed Ex Forum.

Game: 21

Records:
Denver:
14-6 (7-3 on the road)
Streak: Lost 1
Memphis: 10-10 (6-3 at home)
Streak: Lost 4
Injuries:
Denver
: Ty Lawson (left ankle sprain) is probable as Benjamin Hochman reported he will play tonight. DeMarre Carroll (left hamstring strain) day-to-day, game-time decision.
Memphis: Darrell Arthur (torn right Achilles) is out for the season. Zach Randolph (torn right MCL) is out.

Television: Altitude 2 TV (channel 948 in HD on Comcast) & NBA TV

Season Series: 0-0, first match-up of the season.

Opposition's Take: Straight Outta Vancouver (preview is up!)

Nate's 8: Nuggets keys to Victory ...

  1. Hit the 100 point mark ... During the Grizzlies four-game losing streak they have averaged just 83 points, including just 73 points last night in Memphis in a 83-73 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Nuggets come into tonight's game as the league's highest scoring team. Denver averages 105.8 points per game and while Memphis is still a good defensive team with Tony Allen and Marc Gasol, they will be vulnerable to Denver's uptempo style.
  2. Push the pace ... As pointed out above, Benjamin Hochman is reporting that Chico aka Ty Lawson will play tonight against the Grizz. This is good news as Lawson's tempo pushing style is missed as Andre Miller likes to walk the ball up the court in most instances. The Grizzlies are also playing the second of a back-to-back so the Nuggets need to jump on them early and take their legs out of the game, which will then take their hearts out of it too ... Kalima style, for my Indiana Jones fans out there.
  3. Don't give up easy points ... While Memphis has been struggling to score during their losing steak (averaging just 83 points per game), they average 102.6 ppg at home. The Nuggets give up 99.2 ppg to their opponents and Nene Hilario and Company just can't allow a struggling offense to "get right" against them tonight. Defend the paint (easier with Zach Randolph out) and don't allow Memphis to score uncontested, easy buckets.
  4. Defend the perimeter ... The Nuggets have been getting killed on the perimeter and can't allow another 14-30 night from beyond the arc to happen again, like it did against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. Some may say that it can't happen again because Chauncey Billups and Company were just on a hot shooting night, but Denver leaves shooters so wide open that they allow multiple teams to have big nights from the outside against them. George Karl likes his offense to shoot the long ball and attack the rim. It's baffling why the Nuggets don't put more emphasis on not allowing their opponents the opportunity to beat them, the same way Karl wants his team to win games. I don't want to see Mike Conley lighting up the Nuggets from three-point land.
  5. Get Nene going early ... The Brazilian likes to run the floor and work in the post. The Nuggets should run their offense though him in this one; as Marreese Speights has no business trying to defend Nene. Memphis has been forced, with injuries, to play more of a small ball lineup and Karl must restrain himself from going too small for too long. Don't turn this game into a shootout, allow the bigs to work down low, and break the will of the Grizzlies thin frontline.
  6. Fight the urge to go small ... With Randolph and Arthur out of Memphis' lineup, the Grizzlies have inserted Tony Allen into the starting lineup this season and, at least last night, used Sam Young, 6'6'', Quincy Pondexter, 6'6'', and O.J. Mayo, 6'4'' as their primary bench guys. Karl has been using Al Harrington, 6'9'', Rudy Fernandez 6'6'', and Corey Brewer 6'8'' off the bench as his regular rotation lately, but this would be a nice game to see Chris Andersen, 6'11'' or Kosta Koufos 7'0'' get some run.
  7. Gallo take over ... While I think the Nuggets should run their early offense through Nene to get Memphis either in foul trouble or to get Nene's confidence and beast mode going, I think Danilo Gallinari should have a big night against Rudy Gay. Gallo again has the size advantage, but will be tested by another talented offensive player. The Italian Stallion has played well against the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and will get another shot to show off his all around game tonight. Make Gay work on defense and that may slow down his offense. If the game is close, I'd also like to see Gallo with the ball during some key stretches.
  8. Return to dominance ... With a healthy roster for the first time in weeks, the Nuggets will again get to see what this team can do with all their pistons firing. Lawson is back and hopefully Arron Afflalo and Fernandez and feeling much better too. This Denver team is a tough one to defend and a hard one to score on if the defense is working the way Karl and Melvin Hunt want it to.

If the Nuggets can follow the blueprint above, they should have a nice start to their two-game road trip, their four-games in five nights stretch, and get their 13th win to close out January.


On the road tonight, just how the Nuggets like it.

This game is on Altitude 2 and NBA TV this evening!

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