Friday will see the Memphis Grizzlies face off against the Denver Nuggets, the two top teams in the Western Conference. This is the second meeting in a row as the NBA enters its stretch run.
Although Steven Adams will be out of the Grizzlies, Vlatko Car is still questionable for the Nuggets. However, this should be a matchup with both teams at close to strength.
When they faced Denver on Saturday, Memphis dominated the game. They defeated the Nuggets 112-94. Aaron Gordon did not play. Denver will be hosting the game, which has been a key factor for both teams.
There is a lot of noise around the Grizzlies. But let’s focus on how these teams match up and where there might be a real edge for hungry bettors.
After a string of nine losses, the Grizzlies seem to have stabilized their ship, going 6-2 (3-2 since the All-Star break).
During that losing streak, the narrative was about how important Adams was to this roster. I tend to agree with that. He is central to Memphis’s play on both ends.
Adams was a crucial player in the Grizzlies’ second-chance points, fastbreak points, and points in the basket per game rankings. They also restricted opponents to the fourth-fewest paint points and seventh-fewest fast break points.
What are the changes over the past six weeks?
Although they have fallen to 24th in second-chance points per game, the Grizzlies still rank first in fastbreak points per match and first in points inside the paint per game. The Grizzlies’ drop in second-chance points has been partially offset by an increase in their points off turnovers per match, which they have moved from 14th to the first NBA team in this stretch.
Their defense, on the other hand, has suffered a little. They are now sixth in the NBA for limiting points inside the paint and fourteenth in opposing fastbreak points.
Although the offense of the Grizzlies is slightly different, it runs at roughly the same level as it did with Adams’. Although the defense has suffered some losses, especially in terms of limiting fastbreak points to a minimum, these changes are only a few points.
The Grizzlies have some built-in matchup problems for these Nuggets.
Exhibit A was Denver’s 18-point loss last week. In that game, the Nuggets were down by 32 points in the fourth. We’re not going to over-weight one game, though.
Denver was without Aaron Gordon, its top fastbreak threat. Both the Grizzlies (and Nuggets) have performed far better at home this season. The Nuggets’ 21-10-1 home record against the spread is actually the best in the league (+28.4% ROI).
You might think Nikola Jokic would have enjoyed a great game against the Grizzlies with Adams absent, but he only scored 15 points in less than 27 minutes due to the game’s fast-paced nature. It was also one of his worst games this season, with only three assists.
As we have already discussed, these teams last played last Saturday in Memphis, and the game wasn’t even competitive. I am betting this one will be much different.
The last matchup was embarrassing for the Denver Nuggets and you can bet they will come out guns blazing in this game. Look for Jokic to have a monster game and the Nuggets to win by ten points.
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