In the last game of a ridiculous five game road trip to start the season (thanks, NBA schedulers!), the Denver Nuggets face off against Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, the oft-injured, extremely handsome, Chandler Parsons, and the Memphis Grizzlies. Denver is coming off a fantastic, impressive win over the Celtics, while Memphis comes in with losses to the Blazers and the Clippers. Denver has the opportunity to stick it to the schedule makers by finishing this road trip with a winning record, and also push the pick they're due from the Grizzlies into a slightly (very, very slightly) better (or worse, as is your wont) position. Personally, going three and two on this road trip would be a major victory to start this season.
Three things I'm looking for:
Grit and Grind?
I'm going to be honest. I haven't watched even a single highlight of the Grizzlies this season under new coach David Fizdale. I have absolutely no idea how they're playing this season. You used to know exactly what you'd get from Memphis - lots of ZBo post ups, Gasol orchestrating from the elbow, and Conley pick and rolls. I still expect to see some of that, but I really have no idea. I'm interested to see how Fizdale has modernized, if he has at all, the Memphis offense.
Consistency from Mudiay
Against Boston, Emmanuel Mudiay flat out exploded all over the C's in the first quarter. He was flat unstoppable. For the rest of the game, while his shooting came back to earth, he continued to play aggressive, attacking basketball on both ends of the court. I certainly don't expect to see Emmanuel shoot 90% over a quarter again any time soon, but staying aggressive game in, game out, is far from too much to expect. More of that, Mudiay!
The Jurkic conundrum
By now, I think it's clear that we can expect to see Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic starting at the 4 and the 5 for the foreseeable future. I'm not completely sold on it, but I've come to accept it (and sometimes have enjoyed their play together). What I hope to see more of, though, is less time with Faried as the sole big at the center position, and more of Jokic and/or Nurkic playing center without the other on the floor. We'll see if I get my wish when facing a physically dominant front line from Memphis.