The Memphis Grizzlies are home again tonight looking for victory numero uno, this time with the Houston Rockets in town. Mike Conley will sit this one, and probably at least one more, out, which means more Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby running the show for the Grizz. Conley's absence hurts, but along with the point guard spot getting filled, Memphis needs to come through in a few other categories if they're going to get that first win before 2012 comes.
The Rockets began their first back-to-back-to-back last night with a 105-85 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs, which is a pretty good start. After Memphis tonight they'll head back home for a New Year's Eve date with the Atlanta Hawks, so, as we're unlikely to catch them looking ahead (and because this is the only time of the year anyone uses the word 'resolutions'), here are five resolutions that could help Memphis get on track.
-- The point guards must match Lowry. Former Grizzly Kyle Lowry was one rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double last night. Pargo, Selby, and the rest of the defense need to limit his impact on this one.
-- Win the inside. Luis Scola is a monster to guard, but aside from him, Houston will send out Jordan Hill, newly-acquired Samuel Dalembert and maybe, just maybe, former Grizzly Hasheem Thabeet to patrol the paint. We'll avoid the obvious jokes here and just say that Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol should influence this game heavily.
-- Hit from deep. Houston has guys who really enjoy launching threes: Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee -- they can all get hot from outside, and either way, they will keep shooting 'em. The Grizzlies need someone to get hot from the outside to provide some balance for this offense and make up the growing deficit between the Grizzlies and their opponents from three-point land.
-- Get off to a better start. If I recall, the Grizz started 0-for-13 Wednesday night against the Thunder. I can't see how it's possible to get off to a much worse start, so we should have the Law of Averages on our side, at least. Do Laws always get capitalized like that? I'm not sure.
-- Easy baskets. Force some turnovers and get out on the break is one sure-fire way. But another is working to get a better flow to the half-court offense. There were a lot of forced one-on-one jumpers Wednesday night. If the Grizz can get back to working the ball through the post, through Gasol at the free throw line, or through cutters to the basket, Memphis will have a much better chance at that first win. Nobody wants to start the New Year 0-3, and tonight's the last chance for the Grizzlies to end what's been an incredible 2011 for the franchise on a high note.