WHERE: Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- JaMychal Green (Out, ankle/foot)
PORTLAND-Luc Mbah a Moute (Doubtful, knee), Chris Paul (Out, knee)
MEMPHIS-Mike Conley, Dillon Brooks, James Ennis III, Jarell Martin, Marc Gasol
HOUSTON-James Harden, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela
After barely escaping with a win in Portland on Tuesday night, the Memphis Grizzlies have had a breather the past few days before facing a formidable division foe in the Houston Rockets. The Grizzlies almost gave away the game against the Blazers at the end, and they can’t afford to make mistakes like they did Tuesday night if they want to beat James Harden and his crew.
Ivan Rabb and Ben McLemore were both recalled from the Memphis Hustle this week, but it remains to be seen if they’ll see any on-court action tonight.
As usual, the Rockets are an extremely good team at converting threew from beyond the arc, and James Harden is having another MVP-caliber season.
So, how can the Grizz ground the Rockets in FedExForum tonight?
MIKE CONLEY VS. JAMES HARDEN
For the Houston Rockets, James Harden has been an offensive machine in the wake of Chris Paul’s absence due to injury. On the year, Harden is averaging 29 points and 10 assists per game, and he’s shooting 40.6% from beyond the arc.
On the other side, Mike Conley is havinga solid start for the Grizzlies. So far, he’s averaging 18.6 PPG and 4.2 assists per game. And although these numbers are good, they aren’t as good as they were last year. Conley has battled some minor health problems to start the season, but when fully well, he is proving again that he is in the top-tier of NBA point guards.
In tonight’s matchup, Conley has to limit Harden and put up the offensive numbers that he’s capable of putting up. Conley will need to go for 20+ points tonight, all the while defending the explosive James Harden. Now, it shouldn’t be expected of Conley to limit Harden to 10 points tonight. It’s just crucial that Conley doesn’t let Harden go off for another record-setting night like he did recently with 56 points versus the Utah Jazz. If Conley can keep Harden under 25 points, that would be a big victory defensively. Harden is a master at getting to the free throw line, so Conley will have to be careful not to get in foul trouble.
DEFEND THE THREE-POINT LINE
Another key to tonight’s game is that the Grizzlies have to protect the three-point line at all costs. The Houston Rockets can easily start an avalanche of three-pointers. For example, the Rockets shot 32 three-pointers and made 11 of them in the first half alone, which set a new NBA record, against Charlotte a few weeks ago.
With the Grizzlies ranked third in defensive efficiency at 99.7, they’ll be facing a team that’s ranked second in offensive efficiency at 109.3.
Houston is only ranked 15th in game pace, but the Grizzlies will still have their hands full preventing the Rockets from breaking out with transition three pointers. So it’s paramount that Memphis controls the pace of the game to their advantage.
The showdowns between these two teams have been entertaining so far this season, and tonight’s game should be no exception. The Rockets have already lost to the Grizzlies twice this season, so they’re going to try to avoid an 0-3 record against Memphis at all costs. Memphis has had a few days rest, but this could lead to them being rusty.
The Rockets will be coming off a home win against LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. And James Harden, coming off a huge offensive performance Thursday night, will be looking to erase the memory of his last match against the Grizz in which he shot 31.6% from the field.
The Grizzlies’ bench will continue their tear that they’ve been on all season, and Mike and Marc will continue to be the main scorers. However, key role players like Tyreke Evans will try to replicate his consistent scoring that he’s had lately, and the rookie Dillon Brooks will try to do the same. Chandler Parsons is finally improving, and his presence adds more offensive depth for Memphis.
The Grizzlies will maintain their top-tier defense and limit the Rockets enough offensively to grab the win.
Memphis 103, Houston 99