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Preview: Denver Nuggets look for another win against Memphis Grizzlies

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (39-21) are bruised and battered, but they continue to push forward. Tonight, they have a matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies (31-28) who they knocked off in double overtime a week ago. The only difference is they’re now going to be without Will Barton (hamstring) who scored 28 points for them in that matchup while the Grizzlies are a largely healthy squad.

Denver is 7-3 in their last 10 games, and each of those three losses have been brutal games. The Boston Celtics held Denver to just eight points in the fourth quarter before the Golden State Warriors handed out two different beatings. Denver’s health has been decent all season, but they are falling apart at the wrong time. With the season winding down, they can’t afford to drop any games in their race for a top four seed.

Memphis gave Denver everything they could handle being dispatched by the LA Clippers last week. The Grizzlies, like the Nuggets, can’t afford any more losses in this tight playoff race. They are in the eighth spot, and they’re likely going to finish no worse than 10th with a 5.5-game lead on 11th place, but I’m sure they’d like to roll a win against Denver into some success and a top six seed.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (39-21, 21-10 home) vs Memphis Grizzlies (31-28, 18-12 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

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 Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Grizzly Bear Blues

Expected Starting Lineups:

MEM: PG Ja Morant, SG Grayson Allen, SF Dillon Brooks, SF Kyle Anderson, C Jonas Valanciunas

DEN: PG Facundo Campazzo, SG P.J. Dozier, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Jaren Jackson, Jonas Valanciunas, Monte Morris, Will Barton

Three Things to Watch

The War of Attrition

Someone needs to get the petition started for the Nuggets to never have to play in Oracle Arena again. In their last two games there, Jamal Murray was lost for the season with a torn ACL before Will Barton sustained a hamstring injury that is expected to sideline him for several games. It took Denver two overtimes to beat Memphis a week ago. If this game goes that long, will Denver have the legs to get the win?

Take care of the ball

Denver committed 15 turnovers in the first half of the previous matchup. In the final half and two periods of overtimes, they committed nine. It’s not coincidental that they came back to win in the second half when they took care of the ball. This Grizzlies’ team, especially at full strength, love to run and get out in transition. Denver needs to slow this game down and be efficient with their touches.

Can Aaron Gordon step up?

Aaron Gordon was the team’s big acquisition at the trade deadline, and, after some bright moments following his arrival, he’s come back down to Earth in a pretty big way. He’s scored in double digits in just four of their last 10 games, and he’s played more than 30 minutes in the game just twice in that stretch including just 21 minutes in the team’s double-overtime win a week ago. With Barton, Murray and Monte Morris all out, Gordon has no room to not show up here.