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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to win third straight against Memphis Grizzlies

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (4-2) have started the season strong, and they’re going to look to keep up their winning ways in a tough game in the first of two straight against the Memphis Grizzlies (3-3). Denver’s two losses came on a back-to-back last week to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz, but they’ve since blown out the Dallas Mavericks and beaten a tough Minnesota Timberwolves squad.

Denver hasn’t looked perfect through the first two weeks of the season, but they’re doing enough to get the job done. They have four wins in six games with three of those four wins coming by 12 or fewer points, and they have yet to score more than 110 points in any one game. The Nuggets have dominated this matchup since the start of the 2017-18 season, but they’ve earned just one sweep with the Grizzlies taking one matchup in each of the three seasons prior to last year.

For Memphis, they’re right in the thick of the Western Conference as one would expect early on. They’ve earned a couple of gritty wins over teams like the Golden State Warriors and LA Clippers, but they’ve also had their lunch handed to them by some of the better teams across the league. This is a big early measuring stick for the Grizzlies who are looking to make another playoff push this year.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (4-2, 2-1 away) @ Utah Jazz (3-3, 1-1 home)

When: 6:00 p.m. MST

Where: FedEx Forum

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Portland. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Grizzly Bear Blues

Expected Starting Lineups:

MEM: PG Ja Morant, SG DeAnthony Melton, SF Desmond Bane, PF Jaren Jackson Jr., C Steven Adams

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Vlatko Čančar (hip)

Three Things to Watch

Guarding Ja Morant

Ja Morant must love playing against the Nuggets. He has his sixth-most points against any one team against them, and his 20.3 points per game are the 10th-most against any team he’s played in his career. Denver has been getting eaten up by point guards this year, and Morant can do that against Denver. Monte Morris has never been a defensive-minded guard, but that will need to change tonight.

Get Michael Porter Jr. Going

I’ve written the same thing now two weeks in a row on these previews, but it continues to ring true. Michael Porter Jr. has to get rolling. This is the worst stretch of shooting he’s had in his NBA career, and he’s likely never shot this poorly at any level of organized ball in his life. He’s currently shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from 3-point range. The Nuggets have been able to get by without explosive offense from him thus far, but they need that to change as soon as possible.

Watch Out for Desmond Bane

The vast majority of you probably have no idea who Desmond Bane is, but, if you wager on sports at all, specifically player props, you should know exactly who he is. Through six games this season, Bane has scored 17 or more points in every game while hitting the over on his points prop every single night as he’s been starting for the injured Dillon Brooks. Bane is shooting 43.1 percent on 3-point shots this season, and he’s made four or more in four out of six games this season, including five in each of his last two. The matchup between Bane and Porter is one that could have a huge impact on this game offensively.