Game Preview: What to Watch for in the Nuggets Game Against Memphis

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

Friday night is one part celebration and one part hopeful reset. The organization is channeling its 1980s past, bringing back prominent players from the decade as part of the season-long observance the Nuggets 50th anniversary. Bill Hanzlik, Mike Evans, Danny Schayes, Calvin Natt, Michael Adams and Wayne Cooper will all be in attendance.

On the court, the current Nuggets hope to channel some of the hard-charging spirit those 80s teams played with as they look to snap a three-game losing streak tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies. It is the first of a back-to-back that finishes in San Antonio on Saturday night.

The Nuggets will be without starting shooting guard Gary Harris, who will miss the game due to personal reasons. Nuggets coach Michael Malone updated his status after shootaround on Friday morning.

“Gary is back home with his family, and my hope is that he’ll be able to meet us in San Antonio and potentially play in that game,” Malone said. “So, it’s a private family matter with him and his family and all I’ll say on that is our thoughts are with him and his family. Obviously, he’ll miss tonight’s game but there is a chance that he’ll be able to join us in San Antonio tomorrow evening.”

Malone said he has yet to decide who will start in Harris’s place.

So, how do the Nuggets put a stop to this current skid and go into San Antonio with a little momentum? Start with these things…

Get Will Barton scoring again: In the last five games, Will Barton is averaging just 11.3 points per game and shooting 35.9 percent from the field. But there’s, in fact, little that’s as obvious as it seems. In that span, Barton is shooting 38.1 percent from the 3-point line – a percentage that is higher than his season average. It’s Barton’s two-point shooting that has taken a hit of late. If you remove his 3-point shooting, he’s made 15-of-43 shots (34.8 percent) inside the arc in that span. Getting Barton back to knocking down those attempts will solve the issue.

Play with energy: Effort was the theme of the Nuggets’ loss to Atlanta on Wednesday, and everyone involved says it won’t be a problem tonight. Nuggets coach Michael Malone said the team had a good shootaround this morning and would be “shocked” if his team didn’t come out with a good effort tonight.

“What’s more important to me is that we come out and play the right way, and the results will take care of themselves,” Malone said.

INJURY REPORT: Paul Millsap (wrist) is out of tonight’s game.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey.