The Grizzlies will play their second game at FedExForum is as many nights tonight to face off against the Houston Rockets after last night’s matchup with the Miami Heat. The Rockets have struggled out of the gate this season, but may have turned over a new leaf over the past couple of games.
1. The Rockets stumbled out of the gate to start the season and are currently 13th in the Western Conference? What has been the main reason in the Rockets disappointing start?
The depth that left in the offseason (Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute) was replaced by James Ennis, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams. Melo and MCW were phased out of the rotation early, and that leaves Ennis, who has not been able to fully eclipse Ariza’s production from last year. P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela seem to be the only players that have stayed healthy, and even when players are healthy, they aren’t matching last year’s production. Chris Paul is having the worst statistical year of his career. Capela’s numbers are down, so are Gordon’s. It’s a combination of a bunch of things that have hurt the Rockets this season.
2. Despite the slow start, the Rockets have won 2 in a row against both the Lakers and Trail Blazers. Have the Rockets finally figured it out, or is this just a short hot streak?
I feel like this question has been asked already this season. The team went on a five-game winning streak, all against projected playoff teams in mid-November. It felt like the team was “back” then, but then a three-game losing streak proceeded after that. This team always seems to take a step forward and two steps back. I’m hopeful that this team can keep their momentum going, especially with the swap of Gordon and Ennis in the starting lineup. Maybe that’s the switch they needed, but there is no guarantee that this team is “back.”
3. With the early season struggles, do you see the Rockets making a move to improve the roster via trade? Or do you think they will ride it out with the current roster and hope that last year’s team shows up?
This team is absolutely making a trade. Daryl Morey will find one. Marquese Chriss and/or Brandon Knight will be dealt at some point this season, likely at the trade deadline. I also expect the Rockets to make some move in the buyout department later down the line. The Rockets we see in front of us today are definitely not the finished product.
4. James Ennis had a weird Grizzlies career. The potential has always been there, but he was always so inconsistent. How has he been for Houston so far this season? (Before coming down with a hamstring injury)
He’s been average. He hasn’t been noticeably bad, but I think he’s had a lot left desired considering he’s been asked to match Trevor Ariza’s production in the rotation, and he hasn’t delivered. But he’s been solid. He’s one of the team’s better perimeter defenders and he plays an important role on the team. However, it’s not everything the team needs right now.
5. I was surprised to find that the Rockets have joined the Grizzlies as the two slowest teams in the NBA in regards to pace. What is going to be the key tonight for the Rockets to beat the Grizzlies at home in what could be a slow, grind it out game?
The Rockets have the ability to play both slow and fast, but often times play slower. Maybe tonight, they will play a little faster to try and throw Memphis off their game.
Bonus Question: Most players go on a “retirement tour” while it seems like Carmelo Anthony is going on a “disappointment tour”. What was the most disappointing thing during Melo’s 10 game tenure with the Rockets?
The most disappointing thing about Melo’s tenure was how it ended. Most people only remember Melo’s tenth game of his ten game stretch where he only had two points in a loss to OKC. However, before that game, he looked solid and actually provided some offense that could come in handy right now.
Here’s to hoping neither team is too hungover from the Memphis Tigers vs. Tennessee Vols game.