The 23-36 Denver Nuggets are set to welcome the 34-24 Memphis Grizzlies to the Mile High City on Monday night.
Despite being down Marc Gasol for the rest of the year, the Grizzlies are a dangerous team in the Western Conference, and it has shown, as they are currently slotted in as the fifth seed in the Western Conference standings.
The Grizz are 6-4 in their last 10 and 13-15 on the road this season.
The Denver Nuggets are 4-6 in their last 10 and have only managed to win one game since the All-Star break, mainly due to their poor defense.
Michael Malone chimed in on what his team needs to do in order to be successful against Memphis.
“It will come down to Mike Conley in the pick and roll. It will come down to can we guard Zach Randolph on the left block, and can we contain their guards and defend the three point line,” Malone said Sunday at the team’s practice.
Malone summed up how his team will need to play in order to beat Memphis; however, there is a huge elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. That elephant? Can the Denver Nuggets score without Danilo Gallinari?
This will be the deciding factor, not just for the seven-game home stand but for the rest of the season, too. Gallinari is in the midst of a career year, averaging 19.5 points per game. That represents almost 20 percent of the Nuggets’ points on a nightly basis. Finding a way to recoup that production now becomes the Denver’s biggest priority.
Guys like Darrell Arthur, Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris will all need to step up their games offensively to fill the void left by Gallo; asking Will Barton to do it all simply isn’t enough.
The Nuggets are 1-5 this year when Danilo Gallinari does not play.
Aside from Gallo not being available the Nuggets match up against the Grizz fairly well statistically. The Nuggets score more points, grab more rebounds, dole out more assists and hand out more blocks than the Grizzlies on a nightly basis.
That said, the Grizz and Nuggs have faced off against each other twice this season, and Denver has come out on the losing end both times; however, the Grizzlies are a much different squad today than they were when they played the Nuggets earlier in the season.
Like the Nuggets, the Grizzlies are out their best player in Marc Gasol.
Game time is set for 7:00 MST.