Game Preview: Nuggets Return Home to Face Grizzlies

The Denver Nuggets return to Pepsi Center tonight after being on the road for their last five games as they welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to town. The Nuggets went 3-2 on the trip, winning their first three against Portland, Toronto and Orlando before dropping a back-to-back against Charlotte and Atlanta.

Despite dropping their last two games, the Nuggets are still in third place in the Western Conference and are just a half game back of first place. Tonight, is the start of a four-game home stand for the Nuggets as well as the start of a slow two weeks as they have just five games between now and December 25th.

The Grizzlies come in to tonight’s game with a 15-10 record and are two games back of first place in the Western Conference. Memphis dropped their last game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, 111-88. The Grizzlies are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are 7-6 on the road this season.

The Nuggets and Grizzlies met in Memphis on November 7th, an 89-87 win for the Grizzlies as the Nuggets could not convert on a game winning shot attempt.

Here is what to watch for tonight:

Skilled big men: Nikola Jokić and Marc Gasol share many similarities in their offensive games as both can operate on the block and on the perimeter. The first matchup between these two teams saw Jokić attempt just one shot, an attempt at the end of the game with the Nuggets down two points. Jokić has been more aggressive of late, averaging 14.6 attempts and 18 points per game over his last five games to go along with 9.4 rebounds and 9.8 assists.

On the season, Jokić and Gasol have very similar statistics with Jokić averaging 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists compared to Gasol’s 17.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

Defensive showdown: The Nuggets and Grizzlies have both been winning with defense and the two teams have the same defensive rating at 104.3. Memphis is giving up just 102.7 points per game, the second best in the league. The Nuggets aren’t far behind at 103.8 points per game, the fourth best in the league.

Playing shorthanded: The Nuggets are expected to be playing without the services of three opening night starters again tonight as Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Will Barton all recover from injuries. Denver played with just eight players in the rotation against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Jamal Murray was the only starter to play less than 30 minutes, playing 23 minutes despite heading to the locker room during the game after being kicked in the shin. Monte Morris logged 30 minutes off of the bench, while Mason Plumlee and Malik Beasley logged 19 and 23 minutes.

Tonight’s game will tipoff at 7 p.m. MT and will air on Altitude TV and the AltitudeNOW app. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM.

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