Grizzlies could find themselves atop the West after tonight

Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane-Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Grizzlies face the struggling Spurs tonight, and the Nuggets take on a surging Lakers team. With a win and a Nuggets loss, they will have sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.

The Memphis Grizzlies opened their three-game home stand with a 123-118 victory over the Utah Jazz. It was their first victory over the Jazz since January of last season, extending their winning streak to six games. Desmond Bane led the way with 24 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. Tyus Jones continued his impressive play when filling in for Ja Morant, finishing with 21 points and 6 assists.

Getting this victory without Morant was huge, as they are now tied for the best record in the Western Conference with the Denver Nuggets. Both teams play tonight with a chance to get ahead in the standings, but both are projected to win. If that were to happen, The Nuggets would stay as the technical first seed due to beating the Grizzlies earlier in the season.

The Grizzlies need the Lakers to keep their own winning streak alive tonight to help them move ahead of Denver, but let’s look first at what the Grizzlies need to do to help themselves.

Grizzlies need to take care of business at home

Even without Ja Morant, the Grizzlies are expected to easily defeat the Spurs tonight. Sitting at just 13-27, San Antonio is one of the worst teams in the NBA. Despite that, the Grizzlies barely beat them in their first meeting, needing overtime to win 124-122. Still, it would be a huge upset for them to lose at home.

The Spurs have the worst defense in the entire league, giving up 120.6 points a night. They are also the worst three-point defending team from a percentage standpoint, allowing nearly 40% of attempts to be made. That could be a big boost for a Grizzlies offense that has struggled from deep this year. I won’t be surprised to see a high volume of three-point attempts from them in this game as they try and put them away early.

As much as I expect the Grizzlies to handle the Spurs at home, it may not matter with how the Nuggets are playing.

Can Lakers keep their own win streak going?

Assuming the Grizzlies do their part, they will still need an assist from LeBron James and company. The Lakers are on a five-game win streak and are 2-1 against the Nuggets this season, so it wouldn’t exactly be a shock to see them win. Both of their wins were at home, however, and this game will be played in Denver.

The Nuggets are on a hot streak of their own, going 8-2 over their last 10 games. Nikola Jokic is having another MVP-caliber season, and his teammates are providing him with more help than ever before. Overall, the Nuggets are clearly a better team than the 19-21 Lakers.

Despite the advantage the Nuggets have, the Lakers are finally putting things together. Even without Anthony Davis, they have managed to stay competitive after a horrendous start to the season. Now the Grizzlies need them to keep that momentum going to help them get ahead in the standings.