Game Day: Memphis Grizzlies versus Houston Rockets
A week ago the Houston Rockets faced the Memphis Grizzlies after their first win under interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Since then they’ve lost to these Grizzlies and to New York amid turmoil on and off the court.
Now with several days of practice and reflection under their belts the Houston Rockets need to approach this game versus the Grizzlies as if it were an elimination game. Sure, the West has gotten off to a rocky start on a whole, but the team and it’s stars can’t afford to continue losing or they’ll risk missing the post season. Notably the loss to New York offered the team looking their most cohesive on both ends of the court arguably this season.
Though Patrick Beverley is scheduled to return tonight rotoworld was reporting he won’t start, so expect Jason Terry to handle the initial point guard duties. Despite that Beverley will offer more defense to the squad, the are they are most in need of improving.
For their part Memphis has seemingly turned around their slow start via the Mario Chalmers trade having registered 5 wins and 1 loss since his addition to the team.
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Game Time: 8:00 PM EST – 7:00 PM CT
TV: ROOT in Houston and Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 790 AM and WMFS
- Nov 20 HOU 86-96 MEM
- Mar 4 MEM 102-100 HOU
- Dec 27 HOU 117-111 MEM
- Dec 4 MEM 96-105 HOU
- Nov 18 HOU 93-119 MEM
- Jordan Adams – knee, questionable for game
- Brandan Wright – knee, day to day
- Jarell Martin – foot, targeting January
- Sam Dekker – back surgery November 20 , will be out 3 months
- Donatas Motiejunas – still recovering from off season back surgery, no update on scheduled return date
Grading the Match-ups:
Point Guard -Mike Conley versus Jason Terry
The Grizzlies relied so heavily on Conley to create everyone on the teams shots it was imperative they made the early move to add Mario Chalmers. That showcases just how vital Conley is to the offense of the Grizzlies. When healthy he ranks among the league best and continues to be the most under rated point guard in the NBA. Conley controls pace better than any PG and is a versatile offensive player, but manages to also rank high defensively.
It was reported Patrick Beverley will likely play, but no verification has been given. Regardless if he plays it’ll be in a reserve role in his first game back.
Edge: Mike Conley
Shooting Guard: Jeff Green vs. James Harden
Memphis have flirted with Jeff Green starting and have also had him come off the bench, of late he’s back with the starters, but his inconsistency remains an issue. He tends to get up for big games and match-ups so he’ll likely have a decent showing tonight.
Harden had perhaps his best game of the season versus New York. Sure, there weren’t 40 points on the board, but he was working to involve his teammates and not settling for shots. He also was active defensively which needs to continue if the Rockets want to turn this around
Edge: James Harden
Small Forward: Tony Allen vs Trevor Ariza
Allen will be tasked with guarding Harden so we’ll know out of the gate how the zebra’s will call this one by whether they allow Allen to aggressively guard the Beard.
Though Ariza had a few tough games they came after he took some pretty hard falls and overall he along with Jones has been their most consistent player.
Slight Edge: Trevor Ariza
Power Forward: Zach Randolph vs Terrence Jones
Historically Jones has issues guarding players like Randolph, but through their terrible start Jones was one of the few players bringing it every game and providing consistent performances.
ZBo for his part continues to showcase his old man game nightly without every jumping more than 2 inches off the ground, but still managing to snag copious rebounds. Along with Marc Gasol in the front court these 2 bigs are arguably the best passing power forward and center in the NBA.
Center: Marc Gasol vs. Dwight Howard
The Grizzlies signed Marc Gasol to a handsome contract in the off season and he’s worth every penny. He he won’t post huge scoring efforts like a DeMarcus Cousins or demonstratively grab rebounds and blocks like Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside the reality is he can beat ANY OF THEM on any given night. Gasol is the rare big who can do it all; he can score in the post or on the perimeter and more importantly he can defend either. Howard for his part has been strong on the boards, but vacillated between good and bad games on offense.
Edge: Marc Gasol
Slight Edge: Grizzlies
Keys To Winning:
- Slow the production of Conley and his ability to enter the paint
- Push the ball in transition and set the pace, Houston needs to take advantage of that speed, but do it logically not haphazardly. Houston have an advantage over Memphis in the fast break category but it needs to be down under control.
- Likewise Memphis has a huge points in the paint advantage which the Rockets have been brutal at defending
- Control the ball and keep turnovers down.
- Forget the media turmoil – there is no time like the present to grab a win and quiet the masses so the Rockets need to use this opportunity to just win… no excuses
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Despite the rough start to the season the odds makers continue to give the Rockets love favoring them by 3 points with an over/under of 196.5 points. We should know right from the start whether the days off, practice sessions have helped or if the media turmoil is playing havoc with the players.
It’s a difficult game to assess given the amount of turmoil reported in the news. Depending on whether you believe the issues stem with the leaders lends itself to whether you believe in the team. One thing is certain continued losing will result in more moves, but it won’t be the coach leaving this time it’ll be a player!
I’ll go with the odds makers on this one, tentatively and somewhat reluctantly.
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And check our our Preseason Team Preview of the Memphis Grizzlies:
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