Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Memphis Grizzlies

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Following a loss to the Wolves, putting an end to the Rockets 9 game with streak, the Rockets get ready to face the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time this season. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by MVP candidate James Harden, at 28.6 points, 11.8 assists, and  8.3 rebounds a game. The Rockets are ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 19th in defensive rating, and 4th in net rating.

The Grizzlies come into town with the 7th best record in the West, at 24-17, and a few days removed from an impressive come back victory over the Warriors. The Grizzlies are led in scoring by Marc Gasol, at 19.4 points, in assists by Mike Conley, at 6 assists, and in rebounding by JaMychal Green, at 7.5 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies are basically the anti-Rockets, at 24th in offensive rating, 3rd in defensive rating, and 12th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

As the Rockets endure another game without Clint Capela, and potentially Eric Gordon (toe) the starters for Sunday’s game will be: James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and either Nene Hilario or Montrezl Harrell at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes, if he is able to play.

New Grizzly and former Rocket, Chandler Parsons has missed a large chunk of the season due to knee injuries, but will play, likely on a minutes limit. The Grizzlies will start the game with Mike Conely at point guard, Tony Allen at shooting guard, Chandler Parsons at small forward, JaMychal Green at power forward, and Marc Gasol at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Time toe panic? – Everyone knew going into the season that Eric Gordon was an injury risk, and that has appeared to rear it's head, as Gordon has missed the last two games with a sprained big toe. If Eric Gordon has to miss a 3rd game with what is said to be a minor injury, it may be time to worry. Watch to see if Gordon is healed up and ready to play, or if guys on the bench are able to compensate for the loss, as they couldn't on Wednesday.

  • Grit N' Grind – There really isn't a better way to describe the Grizzlies than their nickname. They will play an extremely physical brand of basketball, while grinding the game to the tune of the 3rd slowest pace in the NBA. Watch to see how the drastically different styles between the two teams clash, and how the Rockets are able to defend such an interior based offense, still without their best interior defender in Capela.

  • Which Grizz? – The Grizzlies have been wildly inconsistent this year, stealing games from better teams, then giving up wins to bad ones. In just their last 5 games they've had losses to the lowly Lakers and the injury depleted Clippers, then followed those games with a win over Golden State. Watch to see which version of the Grizzlies come to play Friday night, the tough Grizzlies, ready to maul anyone to pieces, or the meek Grizzly Cubs, ready to roll over and play dead.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets haven't lost two game in a row all season, and I expect that trend to continue, as they get their revenge over the Grizzlies, after losing their last meeting. The Rockets will likely force the Grizzlies into a math problem, as it's hard to beat threes with twos, unless Vince Carter decides to never miss, once again.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Friday, January 13th. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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