Mar 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Fans arrive at Toyota Center before a game between the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Game Day Countdown breaks down Houston Rockets match versus Memphis Grizzlies Saturday October 15th.
Houston Rockets return from China as the only unbeaten squad in preseason action boasting a 4-0 record.
Furthermore the offensive prowess Houston has demonstrated through these 4 games has pundits, fans and their competition sitting up and taking notice.
Mar 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
As much as James Harden has easily adapted to his new role as the starting point guard there remains skeptics. Former coach Kevin McHale isn’t buying the hype saying Harden will fall back into what comes naturally – scoring. In spite of McHale’s cautions the fact Harden sits atop the assist leader board and second in scoring suggests the bearded man can do both.
Mike D’Antoni has shown hints of who he’s favoring out of his reserves having tapped Nene Hilario and K.J. McDaniels early and often.
Meanwhile the Memphis Grizzlies also have a new head coach (David Fizdale) and enter the contest sitting at 3-1.
With that, let’s break down the game.
Next: Starting Line Ups and Depth Charts
Mar 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) and Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) battle for the ball during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mike D’Antoni has utilized projected starters and key reserves through the first 4 games, but don’t be surprised if he switches that up tonight.
Firstly the Rockets are returning from China, so they’ll be jet lagged which opens the door for fatigue and injury. Second, the Grizzlies represent a division rival Houston will face 4 times in season, so holding something back might be wise.
Houston Rockets Starters:
Point Guard: James Harden
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza
Power Forward: Ryan Anderson
Center: Nene Hilario
Finally with 3 preseason games remaining it’s logical D’Antoni will want a closer look at training camp invites. Additionally it makes sense D’Antoni will want the team who’ll play in season suited up for the final 2 games. Therefore don’t be surprised if the starting line-up listed above is completely different. In fact it wouldn’t be surprising to see a starting 5 of Ennis, McDaniels, Dekker, Wiltjer and Onuaku.
Rockets Depth Chart:
Point Guard: Tyler Ennis, Bobby Brown,
Shooting Guard: K.J. McDaniels, Gary Payton II, Isaiah Taylor
Small Forward: Sam Dekker, Corey Brewer, P.J. Hairston
Power Forward: Kyle Wiltjer, Montrezl Harrell
Center: Chinanu Onuaku
Memphis Grizzlies Starters:
Point Guard: Mike Conley
Shooting Guard: Vince Carter
Small Forward: Troy Williams
Power Forward: JaMychal Green
Center: Marc Gasol
Of note, with so many injuries and a glut of assets in the back court it’s difficult to project who’ll provide back up minutes specifically at center and power forward. To wit, expect a bunch of small ball reserve line-ups from the Grizzlies.
Memphis Grizzlies Depth Chart:
Point Guard: Andrew Harrison, Chris Crawford, Wade Baldwin IV
Shooting Guard: Wayne Seldon Jr., Troy Daniels, D.J. Stephens, Jordan Adams
Small Forward: Vince Hunter
Power Forward: Zach Randolph
Next: Game Particulars
Jan 12, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) drives against Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) during the second quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
After a season where most of the Grizzlies were relegated to the bench with numerous ailments the Grizzlies begin the preseason with a slew of players injured.
James Ennis questionable for Saturday due to a knee injury
Brandan Wright will not play – ankle
Tony Allen ruled out due to knee injury
Jarell Martin day to day rehabbing/conditioning foot
Chandler Parsons remains out rehabbing his knee – questionable for opening night
Deyonta Davis will not play Saturday – foot
Jordan Adams out indefinitely
Mar 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward P.J. Hairston (19) talks with referee Dan Crawford (right) during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Clint Capela was held out of Wednesday’s game due to soreness in his hamstring. Expect him to be inactive again.
Pablo Prigioni suffered a shoulder injury which will likely keep him out of game Saturday
Donatas Motiejunas remains unsigned
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Radio and Television Providers:
In Houston and Area: Root Sports
Worldwide: NBA League Pass
Game Time: 7:00 PM CT and 8:00 PM EST
Next: Grizzlies Summer Roster Moves
Oct 13, 2016; Tulsa, OK, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives to the basket in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the second quarter at BOK Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Round 1: Wade Baldwin (17),
Round 2: Deyonta Davis (31), Rade Zagorac (35), Wang Zhelin (57) & Davis and Zagorac come from trade with Celtics for a 2019 first-round pick
Summer Player Movement:
- James Ennis 2-years, $6M
- Chandler Parsons 4-years, $94M exits Dallas
- Troy Daniels 3-years, $10M deal in a sign and trade deal
- D.J.Stephens and Troy Williams also to a 2-year partially guaranteed contract
- Matt Barnes 2-years, $12M to Kings
- Chris Andersen leaves for Cleveland on a 1-year, minimum deal.
- Ray McCallum Jr eaves Pistons on 1-year league minimum deal
- Lance Stephenson – New Orleans Pelicans training camp invitee
- PJ Hairston – Houston Rockets training camp invitee
- Ray McCallum – Pistons
- Mike Conley 5-years, $153M
- Xavier Munford (Grizz decline Team Option)
- Jordan Farmar
Next: Keys to Game
Nov 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Rockets 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Record or Rest?
The quandary at hand for the Houston Rockets is whether to try to remain unbeaten in preseason Travel takes a toll on athletes especially a long trip like China, so the ideal scenario would find D’Antoni resting his core players.
When Kevin Durant signed with Golden State it was assumed the Warriors would top all the offensive categories. This may still end up being the case over the course of an 82 game season. But for the moment it’s the Rockets who lead the NBA with 125 points per game, 13.2 points higher than the second place Warriors.
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Predictably these two teams will vie for the Associations best offense all season, but defense will determine who lands on top. Last season the Warriors ranked top 5 defensively while the Rockets were 21. Through 4 preseason games the Warriors rank second defensively and the Rockets rank eleventh.
Jeff Bzdelik faces former team:
As per above the defense remains a key area Houston must improve this season. Jeff Bzdelik was added in the off season to address these concerns. Today offers Bzdelik a litmus test to measure how much his new squad has progressed versus his former students.
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Next up in the preseason schedule the Rockets play the Mavericks in Dallas, Wednesday, October 19th.