After dropping its season-opener at home against New Orleans, despite boasting the best home record in the NBA during the 2022-23 regular season, the Memphis Grizzlies will look to bounce back at FedExForum against the defending champion Denver Nuggets.
Denver won its first game of the season against the Los Angeles Lakers behind another magnificent performance from two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who posted 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists on 54.5% shooting from the field.
This battle between last season’s top two seeds in the west could set the tone for who will finish atop the conference this year. Check out the betting odds, key matchups, and our best picks and predictions for this marquee matchup below!
Denver Nuggets Vs. Memphis Grizzlies Betting Odds
The Denver Nuggets are 4.5-point road favorites on Friday when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies in FedExForum. Memphis will miss most of its backcourt depth, with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Xavier Tillman set to carry the workload. Luke Kennard, Santi Aldama, Brandon Clarke, Steven Adams, and Ja Morant will all miss this matchup against Denver.
Meanwhile, Denver is as healthy as it has ever been, with Jay Huff and Vlatko Cancer being the only two players listed as out for this game. Every key rotational piece for the Nuggets is available.
Denver Nuggets Vs. Memphis Grizzlies Prediction
The Grizzlies’ injury report resembles one from the COVID years regarding the number of players listed as “out.” Memphis will be missing three of its four best frontcourt players, including Steven Adams (out for the season), Brandon Clarke (likely out for the season), and Santi Aldama (ankle injury.) This leaves reigning DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr. with Xavier Tillman, David Roddy, and Jake LaRavia to fill in the ginormous gaps left by the aforemention players’ absences.
Meanwhile, Denver rolled through the Lakers without too much resistance, shooting roughly 53% from the field and 42% from behind the arc while limiting its turnovers to just 11. The Nuggets have all of their rotation pieces and starters healthy and seem to have picked up right where they left off last June.
Even though it is only Game 2 for both teams, we already have seen what happens when Memphis plays against a team of similar size to Denver: it gets outrebounded by 15 boards and gives up an astounding 25 second-chance points. The likely outcome for this game is simple: Jokic will attack Xavier Tillman and Jaren Jackson Jr. early and often, which could result in foul trouble for an already thin Memphis frontcourt.
If David Roddy, Kenneth Lofton Jr., or Jake LaRavia are forced to defend Jokic, he will put on an offensive masterclass. Additionally, the absence of Luke Kennard (concussion) creates an even wider gap in three-point shooting talent between the two teams. Denver has tightened up its three-point defense substantially since the beginning of last season, and the Grizzlies aren’t an above-average three-point shooting team to begin with, even when Kennard is on the floor.
This is an obvious spot to back Denver against the spread, as Memphis can’t fix all of its shortcomings in just 48 hours.
- Denver is 1-0 ATS in the 2023-2024 regular season.
- Memphis is 0-1 ATS in the 2023-2024 regular season.
- Memphis was 35-6 last season in FedExForum.
The two-time MVP and reigning Finals MVP, Nikola Jokic, has his next test on Friday night against a battered Grizzlies frontcourt. Can he lead the Nuggets to their first road win of the season?
Nikola Jokic vs. Grizzlies Frontcourt
Isn’t it obvious? The key matchup in this game, and the likely deciding factor between which team wins and which team loses, is Nikola Jokic versus the Memphis Grizzlies frontcourt. As alluded to above, the Grizzlies frontcourt is exceptionally depleted, as they are missing three of their four best frontcourt players in Aldama, Clarke, and Adams.
Memphis has not fared well without Steven Adams, boasting a mere 20-16 record in the 2022-23 season after he suffered the season-ending knee injury in January. Further, the Grizzlies were the best rebounding team in the league when he was on the floor but were 15th in the NBA when he was injured. He elevates not only their play on the glass but on the defensive end, too.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Memphis Grizzlies Starting Lineups
Denver Nuggets Injuries: Jay Huff (Out), Vlatko Cancar (Out)
Memphis Grizzlies Injuries: Steven Adams (Out), Luke Kennard (Out), Santi Aldama (Out), Ja Morant (Out), Brandon Clarke (Out)