Rockets News

Rockets vs. Grizzlies preseason preview: Stars to play 20-30 minutes

By Tevin Williams
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 24: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 24: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
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As the Houston Rockets prepare for their first preseason game against Memphis, they will be focusing on nailing down rotations and building chemistry.

The offseason for the Houston Rockets is finally over!

Houston fans should be excited about this upcoming NBA season. We already know what this team can do and they’ll have the same opportunity to make the NBA Finals they had last season.

P.J. Tucker and Nene are out Tuesday night, so we will see a lot from Houston’s newcomers. Mike D’Antoni told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen that the main guys will play anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes against Memphis.

“They’ll play 20, 30 minutes. We’ll see how the game goes. We’ll see how they feel. If somebody gets winded, we’ll probably take them out. But they’ll get a good run.”

The only way to really get into basketball shape is to, well, play basketball. With Tucker out, we’ll likely see Carmelo Anthony start at power forward. D’Antoni has mentioned in the past that he wants to pair James Ennis with Melo as often as possible, so it’ll be interesting to see if he elects to start Ennis over Eric Gordon at the small forward position.

Michael Carter-Williams should get plenty of minutes as the backup point guard. He will play off the ball a lot throughout the season with either Harden or Paul running the offense. Mike D’Antoni will have to get creative with how he utilizes Carter-Williams, who is a poor outside shooter, in Houston’s offense.

Also, Marquese Chriss, Zhou Qi and Isaiah Hartenstein should all get minutes in the backup center role with Nene out. Of the group, Chriss will probably receive the bulk of the minutes as a backup center. He’s a bit undersized, but like Clint Capela, he’s very athletic and could excel as a rim-runner. In college, Chriss nailed 35 percent of his 3-pointers, so you’d have to think that the Rockets will try to push him to utilize his outside shooting more often in the NBA.

But for tonight, Melo will garner most of the attention. Fans want to know how he’ll fit in beside Harden and Paul, how he looks with the first and second units and how his game will fit overall in the Rockets’ offense.

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All in all, these next few games will help D’Antoni gain clarity on the starting lineup and the final rotations. Let’s hope the Rockets start things out right with a win.

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