The top two teams in the Western Conference meet on Saturday night as pacesetters Denver Nuggets make the trip to closest challengers Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nuggets have a 42-18 overall record and hold a six-game advantage over Memphis, meaning a win on Saturday for the visitors would give them a huge lead in the battle for the top seed.
This is the second game of three between these two teams this season after Denver claimed a 105-91 win at the Ball Arena when they last met in December.
This match-up is a potential conference finals preview, so Memphis will be keen to level the score before the final clash between these sides in Denver in just under a week.
Denver are 15/2 to win the championship outright and Memphis can be backed at 16/1.
|What||Denver Nuggets @ Memphis Grizzlies|
|When||01:00, Sunday 26th February|
|How to watch||bet365's Sports Live Streaming, NBA League Pass|
|Odds||DEN Nuggets 11/10, MEM Grizzlies 10/13|
The visitors are the form team coming in Saturday’s game as Denver have won their last four in a row but their road form has been a little patchy in recent weeks.
The Nuggets have won their last three away games but prior to that they suffered four straight defeats on their travels and they face a Memphis side who have made the FedExForum a bit of a stronghold this year.
The Grizzlies have a 24-5 record at home this season, the second best in the West behind only Denver, and have won their last three in Memphis after surprise back-to-back losses to Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors earlier this month.
Memphis are in mixed form overall with just four wins in their last 14 games – but three of those victories have come in their last five games and they have performed well in defeats at Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers during that run so it does appear as if they are starting to rediscover their form.
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The Grizzlies recent struggles have coincided with the loss of starting center Steve Adams to a knee injury and he will miss out once again on Saturday.
The 29-year-old is Memphis’ leading rebounder, averaging a career-high 11.5 per-game this term, and his absence is clearly being felt but coach Taylor Jenkins did offer a positive update on Adams earlier this week.
Jenkins revealed Adams is “trending in a good direction” after stepping up his rehab work over the All-Star break and the team hope to be able to offer an update on when he may be available to make a return in the near future.
Memphis will also be missing mid-season recruit Luke Kennard, who has played twice for the team since arriving from Los Angeles Clippers earlier this month, due to illness.
Denver’s only major injury concern is forward Aaron Gordon as he will miss his fifth consecutive game with a rib injury.
Gordon is averaging 17.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per-game and his absence means Slovenian Vlatko Cancar will start alongside Michael Porter Jr. in the Denver frontcourt.
Denver will once again rely heavily on center and two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic when they head to Memphis.
Jokic recorded his third triple-double in four games as the Nuggets returned to action with a 115-109 win at Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Serbian did manage a triple-double in the first meeting between these teams but Memphis managed to restrict Jokic’s output in scoring as he had 13 points, way below his season average of 24.7 per-game, alongside 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
Memphis’ hopes of claiming a win over a key rival on Saturday rest on star guard Ja Morant. The 23-year-old led the scoring in Denver in December with 35 points and he is averaging 27.1 points-per-game with 5.9 rebounds and 8.2 assists this season.
Jokic is 10/11 to score over 24.5 points on Saturday and Morant can be backed at 10/11 to manage over 24.5.
This is a crucial match-up for both sides in terms of striking a blow to a key rival ahead of the playoffs but both of these teams look on course to record top six seeds regardless of the result on Saturday.
Denver would still be on course for the top seed even if they do slip to a loss, while Memphis have a six-game lead over New Orleans Pelicans in seventh place.