The Memphis Grizzlies will travel to play the Houston Rockets looking to bounce back on two fronts. The Grizzlies lost their last game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and also lost their last game against the Rockets on March 6th. I spoke with Jeremy Brener (@JeremyBrener) from SB Nation’s “The Dream Shake” and asked him five major questions surrounding the matchup.
The last time these two teams played the Rockets won and controlled most of the second half. What do they have to do to have the same success?
Jeremy Brener - Christian Wood has to play out of his mind. His game against the Grizzlies was probably his best game as a Rocket, but his season has been defined mostly by poor defense and failing to reach expectations on offense.
A lot of the team’s struggles stem from two places: the team’s youth/inexperience and Christian Wood’s inability to protect the paint very well. The reason why the Rockets have the league-worst defense is because many teams try to attack inside with Wood there. So, if Wood can become just an average defender in the post, the Rockets have a shot.
Jalen Green seems to have figured it out late in the season, what do you think was the turning point for him?
JB - All-Star Weekend. The Rising Stars Challenge gave him an opportunity to showcase his skills and I believe it gave him the confidence to attack more and create plays with the ball more.
Since then, his averages are way up and he looks like a more confident player.
The Grizzlies won 4 of the last 5 since the loss against the Rockets. Do you expect to see a more focused Grizzlies team in this matchup when compared to the game 2 weeks ago?
JB - Absolutely. The Grizzlies have far more to play for than the Rockets and are striking for that No. 2 seed. The fact that the Rockets beat them two weeks ago shouldn’t have escaped their memory. They want their revenge and it should be right for the taking.
Kevin Porter Jr had 29 points in the last matchup but has been inconsistent for most of the season. How can he change that narrative going forward?
This season for KPJ has been about learning the point guard role, and the Rockets have taken the approach to play him and let him make mistakes, which explains the inconsistencies.
When he’s on, KPJ can explode and be the reason for victory, but when he’s not, it usually leads to blowouts. I’ve seen enough progress from KPJ that leads me to believe he’ll figure it out. The game is slowing down for him and I believe it’s only going to be a little bit until he’s doing this on a nightly basis.
In the last game, Jaren Jackson Jr. played just 13 minutes because of foul trouble. Do you think getting him in foul trouble early will be part of the game plan?
JJJ is Memphis’ best post player. The Rockets struggle against strong big men who can score. If the Rockets don’t get him in foul trouble, they will definitely lose. I can’t remember if the Rockets have won a game in which the big man goes off, so that should be the plan for every Rockets game if they want to win.
Huge thanks to Jeremy Brener for being a part of the article, you can find his Twitter here: (@JeremyBrener)
As for my prediction, I think the Grizzlies will remember the last matchup and come out focused. The Rockets have been playing well lately but will not have enough firepower this time. Grizzlies win 121-103.