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Grizzlies hope to keep up and down Rockets grounded

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A win against the Rockets, one of the better teams in the Western Conference, would be a huge lift for a Grizzlies team that seems to be gaining their footing.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
2013/2014 NBA Season
12-15 (6-5 away)
Won 2
19-11 (11-4 home)
Won 1
December 26th, 2013
Toyota Center in Houston, TX
7:00 PM CDT
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Jeremy Lin
Tony Allen SG James Harden
James Johnson SF Chandler Parsons
Zach Randolph PF Terrence Jones
Kosta Koufos C Dwight Howard
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.9 (30th) Pace 98.6 (6th)
100.8 (21st) OEff 107.7 (3rd)
105.5 (26th) DEff 101.9 (10th)

Line: Houston -7.5: O/U: 198

Opponent's Blog: The Dream Shake

Injury Report: Memphis: Marc Gasol - Out (Knee); Tayshaun Prince - Out (Knee); Quincy Pondexter - Out (Foot); Houston: Omer Asik - Out (Thigh); Patrick Beverley - Out (Hand); Greg Smith - Questionable (Knee)

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

Seth Curry's Addition

Everyone is highly anticipating the first NBA game of the younger, lesser known of Dell Curry's two sons. Despite having a multitude of doubters already, there are plenty that are excited sheerly because of his brother's (Stephen Curry) reputation. Before being signed by the Grizzlies, Seth was tearing up the NBA Developmental League playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

In 12 games, Curry averaged 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 1.58 steals. Those stats are promising, but there are a couple potential flaws: 1) It's a twelve game sample. That's far too small to determine future NBA success. 2) It's against D League competition. That isn't meant to be a knock on that league, because the growth of its product has been phenomenal over the last couple years. However, there is no denying the discrepancy between the product of the D League and the NBA.

Curry was presumably signed to bring shooting and another body to a roster that is falling like flies due to injuries. The Grizzlies have needed wing players that can shoot for some time, but the problem with the Curry signing is he isn't a wing. His length is subpar, as he is an undersized shooting guard at 6'2". He shot 33.8% from the three-point line in the D League, which is neither terrible nor great. It will be interesting to see how Curry performs against longer, more athletic defenders. Will he be able to get good shots off consistently?

Another aspect of Curry's game that should be interesting to watch is his propensity to need the ball in his hands. With that said, will he need to play a back up point guard role where he challenges Calathes or will he play what is said to be his 'natural position' off the ball?

Guarding Dwight Howard by Committee

Without reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, guarding Howard becomes a much more daunting task for the Grizzlies. Assuming Howard can catch the ball with his brick hands, he is extremely dangerous from that point with the ball in the post. Kosta Koufos will likely draw the first assignment on Howard.

The Grizzlies don't have a guy that can guard Howard 30+ minutes a night and come away with a positive result. Therefore, they will likely stagger their defensive assignments. Zach Randolph, Jon Leuer, and Ed Davis will all likely find themselves guarding Howard at some point during the game. The Grizzlies have had holes abound in the defense all season, and Howard could easily make them pay. If they can frustrate him, hack him, and get him to hack away himself forcing him into foul trouble, then Howard's impact could be limited.

Will Zach Randolph keep riding high?

Randolph has performed well in the last two games, was just named the Commercial Appeal's Sports Person of the Year, and he just had his first Christmas with his newborn baby. Of course, the only one of the three aforementioned things that is pertinent for the game against the Rockets is the first one. Randolph has struggled in the wake of Gasol's absence, but he is still capable of making light work of nearly any opponent and put up a double-double. The Grizzlies need Randolph to carry a lot of the offensive load on a nightly basis. The past two games he has done just that, averaging 23.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. Those stats were posted against the New York Knicks and the Utah Jazz, but they are promising nevertheless.

Randolph has been vintage-like recently, and he has found a consistent stroke on his 15-17 jumper. He also seems to be playing with a little more energy because his footwork has been quicker and more fluid. This has helped him to get off better jump shots after jab steps and also pivot his way to easier shots in the paint. If Z-Bo can show he's finally overcome playing against a team's best post defender every night, that will be great news for this squad going forward. Inching ever closer to .500 and Gasol's return, assuming the Grizzlies continue their brief run of positive play, they will be in good shape to start the New Year.

Quick Tidbits

  • Grizzlies are 5-5 against the Rockets in the teams last ten meetings.
  • In the teams last meeting earlier this year, the Grizzlies lost 96-83 at home.
  • Dwight Howard had 15 points and 7 rebounds in the teams first meeting this season.
  • The lineup of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, and Kosta Koufos had a positive net rating of 9.0 in the first meeting with Houston. Too bad Prince is likely out.

Final Prediction

The Grizzlies have looked good in their last two, but that was against teams far inferior to the Rockets. Given all Houston's offensive assets and the Grizzlies porous defense, I expect Houston to post a triple digit number in the points column easily. The Rockets quick pace of play coupled with great offensive efficiency just doesn't bode well for the Grizzlies defense. Zach Randolph will post another impressive line, but it won't be enough.

Final Score: Houston 106, Memphis 95