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Preview: Denver Nuggets host Memphis Grizzlies

Social & Digital Content Manager

The Denver Nuggets have certainly put on quite a few shows for the Ball Arena during this season-long, six-game homestand.

The latest performance was a 15-point comeback against the LA Clippers that saw Aaron Gordon hit a game-winning 3-pointer with less than two seconds left in overtime. Of course, one can’t mention that game without highlighting Nikola Jokić’s dominant 49-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. Although Denver’s offense went through a few dry spells Wednesday night, the Mile High squad got it going at the right time to pull out the win.

However, Denver (23-20) will need a more complete performance Friday night when the Memphis Grizzlies visit Ball Arena.

Memphis (31-16) has been one of the major surprise teams this season, with a top 10 offense and defense fueling the league’s third-best record. Ja Morant has continued his ascension, while the Grizzlies boast quality depth and nearly every position to withstand the grind of a regular season.

Memphis won the first two meetings between the two teams back in early November.

INJURY REPORT:

JAMAL MURRAY – LEFT KNEE INJURY RECOVERY. OUT.

MICHAEL PORTER JR. – LUMBAR SPINE SURGERY. OUT.

VLATKO CANCAR – RIGHT FOOT SURGERY. OUT.
JAMYCHAL GREEN – HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS. OUT.

TUNE-IN: 7 p.m. MT, Altitude TV and 92.5FM

What does Jokić have in store for an encore?

Wednesday’s game was a showcase for the immense value Jokić brings to the table on a nightly basis. The Serbian’s 49 points came from all areas of the floor, including three 3-pointers and 14 made free throws.

LA resorted to double-teams and traps throughout Wednesday’s contest, which simply allowed the reigning MVP to do what he does best: pick apart a defense with his passing. Jokić’s 10th assist was one of the best passes of the season, a cross-court dime (while being double-teamed) to Gordon for the game-winning three.

Now Jokić will look to follow up his best performance of the season against Memphis, which has several quality frontcourt options to throw his way. In the first two meetings of the season, Jokić averaged 28.5 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting from the field.

Keep Memphis off the offensive glass

The Grizzlies have been an elite team on both ends of the floor this season, with their offense slightly ahead of the defense in fueling their productivity.

Memphis owns the eighth-ranked offense per Cleaning the Glass, with dominant offensive rebounding playing a key role in that success. On the season, the Grizzlies rank second in offensive rebound percentage at 31.2 percent.

Friday’s matchup pits one of the best offensive rebounding teams in Memphis against one of the best defensive rebounding teams in Denver. The Nuggets rank second in opponent offensive rebound percentage on the season, having been very effective in limiting second-chance opportunities.

What will Forbes add to the Nuggets?

One other intriguing wrinkle to Friday’s game is that Denver’s new acquisition is expected to make his Mile High debut. Following a trade on Wednesday, Bryn Forbes should be available for the Nuggets against the Grizzlies, which instantly injects a new level of 3-point shooting into Denver’s rotation.

Forbes has connected on 41.7 percent of his attempts from downtown this season and projects to be Denver’s best threat from beyond the arc upon his arrival in Denver. For a Nuggets team that has had an up-and-down shooting season (Denver connected on 34.2 percent of its 3-point attempts Wednesday night, right around the team’s average on the season), Forbes should be a key boost for the Nuggets’ offense.