WHERE: ESPN Wide World of Sports - The Arena in Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Streaming on Grizzlies.com/NBA League Pass
FOR THE ROCKETS PERSPECTIVE: Visit The Dream Shake
MEMPHIS: Justise Winslow (Out, hip)
HOUSTON: Austin Rivers (Out, personal), DeMarre Carroll (Out, hamstring)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
HOUSTON: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Eric Gordon, Robert Covington, PJ Tucker
The middle scrimmage for the Memphis Grizzlies features a division foe in the Houston Rockets. Memphis spent the entire first half of their opening tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers knocking off months of rust as expected.
These three scrimmage games before the seeding games are designed for teams to knock off rust and get back into NBA game shape. The fact that the Grizz lost their first matchup does not matter. Quite frankly, it does not matter if they lose all three. The focus should be finding rhythm and settling rotations.
Figuring out the rotations
While the Houston Rockets present a unique challenge due to their ultra small ball initiative, Taylor Jenkins will look to put the rotations in place he wants to use in the seeding games. Grayson Allen, John Konchar and Anthony Tolliver would all be candidates for spot minutes against Houston as the 11th man for the Grizz.
Jenkins ran out a lineup featuring Ja Morant, Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks which was a new wrinkle. With eight more minutes added to this scrimmage, Coach Jenkins will be able to better tinker with lineups to get the most out of the offense. Josh Jackson seems to be the beneficiary of the Justise Winslow injury and showed flashes of what he can provide for the Grizzlies in transition and on defense.
Defending the perimeter
It’s almost as if struggling to defend the three-point shot is synonymous with Memphis Grizzlies basketball. It has been an achilles heel for this franchise for seasons and this year has been no anomaly. Philly came out the gate hitting six early threes, making the lead insurmountable early.
Houston infamously hunts threes and lay ups. With the interior defense and superior size inside for Memphis, the Grizzlies must be ready to defend a fury of three point shots from very capable shooters. Look for Russell Westbrook and James Harden to run a high number of pick and rolls with PJ Tucker in an attempt to get the Jonas Valanciunas switch. JV’s defense on the perimeter will be a key in this battle and may call for more minutes for Gorgui Dieng, a more capable perimeter defender. Coach Jenkins may even be tempted to run more line ups with Clarke or Jaren at the five as well.
Exploiting the mismatches
Good NBA teams and coaches find the mismatches on paper and on the court and seek to exploit them as much as possible. The Grizzlies will need to do just that in order to win this exhibition game. Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Gorgui Dieng should dominate their one-on-one match ups on post ups, while the guards should have no fear attacking the rim.
Attempting to win a three-point shootout against Houston is a foolish proposition for any team not named the Golden State Warriors. Besides the fact the Rockets feature one of the elite scorers in the league, an overly large volume of three is no the strong suit of the Memphis Grizzlies. Attacking the rim and winning the points in the paint battle by a wide margin will be the winning formula against Houston.
Prediction: I predict another game with some rust early, but an absolute joy to watch because Grizzlies basketball is back and the result is irrelevant.