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Preview: Nuggets host the Grizzlies

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The Nuggets look to get back on track and wash the bad taste of the Christmas loss out of their collective mouths

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets have some reparations to make after coming out flat and losing to the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas and they look to do so at home against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are 12-20 but winners of 4 of their last 7 and playing decently on the road. Ja Morant is a Rookie of the Year candidate, leading the team in points and assists, and Denver will have to contain him better than they did Brandon Ingram if they want to avoid a second loss to a losing squad.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (21-9, 13-4 home) vs Memphis Grizzlies (12-20, 6-8 away)

When: 3:00 p.m. MST

Where: Pepsi Center

How to watch/listen: Not on Comcast

Rival Blog: Grizzly Bear Blues

Three Things to Watch

  • Slowing Down Ja Morant. The Nuggets failed to stop Brandon Ingram - partly due to having no one on the team particularly suited to the task - and it cost them big against the New Orleans Pelicans. Ja Morant is a similar situation: he is very quick which will cause problems for Jamal Murray and it may be up to Gary Harris to try to put the clamps on him. The Memphis offense is wrapped around Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. which means Denvers bigs and guards will both have to step up in this game.
  • Matching size and energy. Brandon Clarke is having an excellent rookie campaign (just as our own Ryan Blackburn predicted) and together with Jackson and Morant will make Denver work on defense. The Grizzlies get shots up and make a bunch of em, while having a top-3 assist total. They’re not necessarily great on the boards but they will work for them in spots, and if Denver lets rebounds hit the floor through lack of effort they’re going to regret it.
  • Play Jokic ball. What Memphis is not great at happens to be defense. These are not the Grit n Grind Grizzlies of years past. It’s hard to play great defense with such young players (just take a look at Michael Porter Jr. and his defensive woes this year for a glimpse) and they give up a lot of open shots. Make shots, work the ball on offense, and team rebound to run Memphis up and down the court. I don’t expect Nikola Jokic to take 20+_shots again, but if he’s in his wheelhouse of around 15 and flirting with a triple double the Nuggets should have the firepower to make quick work of this game.

Prediction: Nuggets 111, Memphis 101.