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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets Game Preview

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What could possibly go wrong?

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (1-4, 1-2 home) vs. Houston Rockets (3-3, 1-2 road)

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Brandon Clarke (Probable, back), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Doubtful, knee), Grayson Allen (Out, ankle)

HOUSTON: Russell Westbrook (Doubtful, load management), Gerald Green (Out, foot), Nene Hilario (Out, adductor)

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Brandon Clarke, Jonas Valanciunas.

HOUSTON: James Harden, Eric Gordon, Danuel House, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela


A few of the natives are already getting restless in Memphis.

Nevermind the fact that the Grizzlies are the 2nd youngest roster in the NBA (Phoenix, who defeated the Grizzlies Saturday night, is the youngest). Nevermind the truth that Taylor Jenkins is one of the youngest head coaches in all of professional sports and is trying to navigate establishing himself as a leader among this group. Nevermind the idea that it was known Memphis would be bad by all, and is reiterated by those frustrated with the start to this season, yet the frustration remains.

The names and faces are different, but the fans remain the same.

Thank goodness for that consistency.

The Grizzlies enter tonight’s game against a superior Rockets team with their first real bumps and bruises of the young season. While it appears Jaren Jackson Jr. may have dodged a bullet with a more serious knee concern, it is unlikely he plays in this contest and may miss a couple more games to make sure he is right. Grayson Allen is also out, meaning more opportunity for other wings looking to carve out minutes in the Memphis rotation.

While Russell Westbrook will likely sit, James Harden and company has more than enough firepower on their own to handle the Grizzlies. If Memphis wants to have a chance to win, they must keep it close through the third quarter...something they’ve struggled with to this point.

How do they get there? Here are some things to watch for in this game.

Less Jae Crowder, more anyone else not named Dillon Brooks

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

I cannot stress this enough - they’ve played five games. No definitive statements should be made one way or another about this team, and truth be told the starting lineup should not be tinkered with...yet.

But Jae Crowder, who leads Memphis in minutes played at 153 (30.6 per game), probably should play a little bit less. Not because he is struggling - he is, but again, it’s November 4th. Relax.

It’s because he almost certainly won’t be a Grizzly for long, even if he isn’t traded.

Crowder’s veteran presence has real value on this young roster, and if the Grizzlies wanted to keep him around roughly the same amount of time as, say, Jonas Valanciunas in terms of a contract (2 years, $15 million descending would makes sense) that would be a solid fit. But Crowder is probably not a player that will be on the next great Grizzlies team, if things go according to the long-term plan. DeAnthony Melton might be. Kyle Anderson might be. Marko Guduric, Bruno Caboclo, even eventually Josh Jackson (hopefully) should see an increase in time here or there as play and practice time warrants it.

Jae is a solid role player in the NBA, and that is needed for Memphis to get through the weeks ahead. But the end of the road for this rebuild is a long, LONG, ways off. The Grizzlies need to figure out if any of the aforementioned players can be what Crowder already is - an NBA lifer.

So 5 or so minutes less a night for Jae going to a young wing may make Crowder more fresh at crunch time, and will give valuable live reps to players that need them more than Jae does. Win-win.

More Ja and Tyus together

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

(Prepares for screams)

THEY ALREADY SUCK DEFENSIVELY ON THE PERIMETER. YOU WANT TO PLAY TWO UNDERSIZED GUARDS TOGETHER MORE????

Yes, yes I do.

If we’re going to say Bruno Caboclo and Kyle Anderson can play the five in certain lineups, why can’t Tyus (the more mature mentally and physically of the two options here) play the “two guard”? The team is struggling mightily defensively as it is, and the goal is to be more efficient offensively at this stage, so why not play your best scoring threat (Morant) with your most efficient facilitator who has proven he can protect possessions?

A Ja/Tyus/Dillon Brooks/Jae Crowder/Brandon Clarke lineup would give you front court switch-ability, multiple (theoretical) shooters, and two above average at worst, near elite at best, creators on the ball to play off of each other. Are they going to get scored on? Sure. But that’s already happening.

Might as well see how well the machine can run offensively with two lead point guards pulling the strings.

The Prediction

Houston Rockets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Fans will continue to insist that they expected the Grizzlies would be bad while being frustrated that Memphis is, indeed, bad. DeAnthony Melton will look good in a larger role with Grayson Allen out, Ja Morant will continue his strong offensive start to keep it close for a time, but the Rockets will run the Grizzlies off the floor in the second half.

Houston 125, Memphis 108

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