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Game Day Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Memphis Grizzlies – The Search For Consistency

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Game Day: Houston Rockets versus Memphis Grizzlies

The Houston Rockets will visit The FedEx Forum Wednesday night looking to avoid an 0 – 3 skid in their season series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams have written the same script in terms of expectations coming into the season as opposed to performance nearing halfway through the season.

Houston’s season thus far has been identical to texting a girl or guy you met through one of your buddies. You find the person attractive and you want to get to know them so you both exchange numbers. On some days the conversation is flowing and you’re getting the vibe that he or she just might be into you. Then there are days where they’re throwing hay makers at you with one word responses or the infamous “k” which is also the universal finish line for every conversation ever known to man kind.

On some nights the Rockets can beat the Spurs, on others, they can’t seem to compete with the local YMCA youth team. Stop the tease. Please.

Nov 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) controls the ball as Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) controls the ball as Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have refused to abandon the Titanic. “Grit’ing and Grinding” their way to a 21-18 record punishing teams inside while showing zero life from deep. At some point you have to start believing that this style of ball just doesn’t work anymore. Sure you can make the argument that the Spurs have been the contrarian (per usual) by playing at a slower pace with bigger lineups much like Memphis but the difference between the two ball clubs is the effectiveness from three land. San Antonio is shooting 38.2% from three (per teamrankings.com) good for second overall while the Grizzlies are shooting 31.7% from three only topping the Lakers and Nets.

The Details

Venue: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee

Game Time:  8:00 PM EST – 7:00 PM CT

TV: ROOT in Houston and Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 790 AM and WMFS

Recent History

  • November 25 Mem 102 – 93 Hou
  • November 20 Hou 84 – 96 Mem

Walking Wounded

Memphis Grizzlies

Houston Rockets

Projected Starters

Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Matt Barnes, Jeff Green, Marc Gasol

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, Dwight Howard

Reserves:

Grizzlies:   Courtney Lee, Mario Chalmers,  Zach Randolph

Rockets: Marcus Thornton, Corey BrewerTerrence Jones

Houston at Memphis
Houston at Memphis

Keys To Winning

  • Push tempo, look for transition opportunities at all times.
  • Communicate defensively
  • Lure Memphis into a jump shooting team
  • Houston Small Ball > Memphis Small Ball

Lawler’s Law, first to 100 wins. In the previous two meetings, Houston has failed to control the tempo of the game being mesmerized into Memphis’ preferred sloth style of play. The Grizzlies have been vulnerable to the fast break giving up 14.7 per game (24th). To take advantage of this, Houston needs to be relentless in the open court pushing the ball, looking for transition baskets every chance possible. The key to doing so is by luring the Grizzlies into attempting long range jumpers. Memphis ranks within the bottom third of the league in almost every shooting category you can think of. These long jumpers will lead to long rebounds where Houston’s perimeter defenders which would usually be any guard or wing capable of pushing the ball would have great positioning to rebound and go. Big’s such as Terrence Jones, Howard, Clint and Harrell also need to look to out sprint Memphis’s post players down the floor in transition forcing Gasol and Randolph to exert energy on the defensive side of the floor in hopes of wearing down their offensive production.

Defensively, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team get beat so many times backdoor as much as Houston does. It’s inexcusable and completely unacceptable the lack of communication the Rockets have defensively. You’re taught to keep your head on a swivel and to stay between your man and the basket as a toddler and yet these guys are getting paid millions to forget the fundamentals. Most of Memphis’s offensive production comes from within the paint. Although Gasol is having a down season, his ability to dissect a defense through an array of hooks, fade-aways, a prolific jumper from mid range and uncanny vision for a big man has to be respected. Conley is what makes the engine go. He’s what NFL pundits would call a game manager. Conley’s never rattled nor is he ever playing at a pace dictated by the opposing player. His poise under pressure and knack for always making the right decision is the leading factor as to why he’s constantly one of the league leaders in Assist to Turnover ratio, a very underrated stat regarding point guards.

It would be wise for J.B Bickerstaff to hide Harden’s defensive fiasco on Matt Barnes whose almost completely useless offensively now that his jumper has taken a vacation. If Memphis decides to go small with Jeff Green at the power forward position, Houston should think about matching up small as well with Ariza at the four. To counteract the Grizzlies having Randolph come off the bench, Capela would play in the second unit alongside Terrence Jones who has no chance in this lifetime at defending Z-bo. With Capela containing Randolph, Jones’s offensive activity level should increase against the likes of JaMychal Green.

Prediction:

The odds makers have Memphis as -1.5 point favorites with an over under of 198.5.

The last three Houston victories have showed signs of life on the defensive end on the floor. Granted it being against the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers – two teams who rank outside of the top ten in offensive efficiency. Houston must play with the same urgency as they do heading into the fourth quarter, too often will the Rockets start off slow letting the opposing team dictate tempo. Both teams are coming off one day of rest so in terms of a scheduling situation advantage their is none at hand for either team. Revenge against a division opponent must be in mind for the Rockets and I have a hunch that this team just might be peaking (although I’ve felt that way many times before this season).

Houston – 107Memphis – 98

For more exciting news and stories on the Memphis Grizzlies visit our affiliate FanSided site: Beale Street Bears

And check our our Preseason Team Preview of the Memphis Grizzlies:

Next: Grizzlies - The Constant Grind

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Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our Space City Scoop Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Daily Rocket Science  which offers an update of news on the Rockets around the National and Social Media sites and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

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