The first team stat that jumps out at me is average points scored per game. The Nuggets are number one in the league at a mark of 110.5, while the Grizzlies are fourth worst at 92.6. That’s 17 points that the Grizzlies will either have to find a way to score over their average to hang with the Nuggets. Or if you are of the glass half empty frame of mind, the Nuggets will have to have a poor night offensively for the Grizzlies to have a chance. I am choosing to look at only average points scored, not because the Nuggets don’t give up their fair share (which they do), but rather because in almost every game that the Nuggets have played this year they have been the team that has dictated the tempo of the game to their liking.
Next on the docket is field goal percentage. The Nuggets are eighth in the league hitting 46.5% of their shots. This percentage is looking strong because the Nuggets get out and run for easy buckets and have Carmelo shooting a high percentage and making up a huge portion of their scoring. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies however, because they are currently last in the league in this category only shooting 41.7%. If they are going to find a way to hang with Denver tonight they better start putting the ball in the hole with more efficiency. Otherwise, Denver’s ability to put points up on the board quickly is going to put the Grizzlies in a whole world of trouble.
When it comes to finding the open man for an easy deuce, the Nuggets are the second best team in the NBA with an average of 24.75 assists a night. While I wish the Nuggets weren’t allowing the other team an average total of 23 assists of their own, I am not too worried about the Grizzlies hitting this kind of passing mark. My reasoning is simple. Memphis only averages a shade over 16 assists a night, not to mention are allowing the third most assists to the opposing team in the league. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that the Nuggets should out assist the Grizzlies tonight without much trouble. Furthermore, assists by definition lead to points, and I don’t think that I need to tell you what the Nuggets are capable of when it comes to scoring points (140 anyone?).
And last, but certainly most importantly and unfortunately, is the Grizzlies are without their main man Pau Gasol. He has been gone since injuring his foot in the FIBA Championships and his absence has been crushing to this team. Without Gasol, Memphis lacks a true answer when the questions start getting crucial. Their leading scorer is Chucky Atkins, who is putting up a meager 14.9 points a game, and they do not have anyone averaging more than six rebounds. Expect the Nuggets to dominate the glass, the pass, and turn both into a hyper-paced, score-a-thon. I just don’t see any other way, despite a complete breakdown on the Nuggets behalf, that the outcome shouldn’t be victory tonight at the Pepsi Center. Hopefully my pregame analysis is correct. Otherwise… I might need help getting this size 10.5 out of my mouth!