When they defeated the Denver Nuggets by 18 points on Saturday in a Western Conference matchup of the top two teams, the Memphis Grizzlies demonstrated how dominant they can be.
Memphis will have to play on the road if it wants to reach the West’s top seed. On Wednesday night, the Grizzlies defeated Houston to end an eight-game road losing streak; however, on Friday night, they will face a challenging opponent in Denver.
The teams meet for the third and final time, with each team having won at home.
Memphis needs to win on Friday night because the Nuggets have a five-game lead over them, four of which are losses. The Nuggets would hold the tiebreaker and a commanding lead with one month remaining in the regular season if Denver wins.
The Grizzlies hope that their Friday night victory over the sagging Rockets will carry over.
Despite a report this week about an alleged incident he was involved in at a summer pick-up basketball game, Memphis star Ja Morant is performing well. Morant was reported to the police, but no charges were brought against him.
Morant scored 20 points against Houston and 39 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
For the past three months, the Nuggets have been dominant in basketball and are nearly unbeatable at home (28-4). Since Dec. 6, they have only lost one game at Ball Arena.
It helps that Denver has Nikola Jokic, who has won the MVP two times. He would become the first player since Larry Bird in 1984-86 to win the award three times in a row if he wins it again. While shooting 63.3 percent from the field, Jokic is averaging a triple-double of 24.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game.
Now that the Nuggets are getting closer to full health, he has been getting a lot of help. Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon each average 17.0 points per game, and Jamal Murray, who returns from a three-week absence to add more scoring punch, is averaging 20.1 points per game.
As the regular season winds down, Denver’s offense is on point, and its defense has been one of the best in the NBA over the last 41 games. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who can concentrate on one player to free up the rest of the defense, was brought in this summer.