The Grizzlies certainly took care of their 0-10 record in the Southwest Division over the weekend by defeating the Rockets in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, they edged the Rockets 88-87 on the road and then came back to the Grindhouse in Memphis to put a 99-81 beat-down on them. Their success against the Rockets over the weekend got me to thinking about whether or not the Rockets are a favorable playoff matchup for the Grizzlies. I will analyze the two games just played to explain why the Rockets are a favorable match up.
The number one thing that should be noted is that the Grizzlies out rebounded the Rockets in both of these games by an average of 12.5 rebounds per game. That’s huge. The Grizzlies are already one of the top rebounding teams in the NBA with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph patrolling the paint, and they certainly had a huge advantage on the Rockets in that department, even with Dwight Howard playing.
Secondly, the Grizzlies have a better point guard than the Rockets with Mike Conley, who thoroughly outplayed both of the Rockets’ point guards Patrick Beverly and Jeremy Lin. The NBA is a point guard driven league and the Grizzlies winning that battle means that they have a huge advantage over the Rockets.
Thirdly, the Grizzlies are able to keep the Rockets’ star shooting guard James Harden in check. The way that they are able to do this is through putting either Courtney Lee or Tony Allen on him since both guys are fantastic perimeter defenders. Harden averaged only 13 points per game in both contests, and as a result, they held the Rockets to an average of 84 points per game. Harden’s struggles against the Grizzlies go back to his days with the Thunder, when they held him to single digit points on a couple of occasions. The Rockets have to be worried about Memphis’ ability to slow down Harden. Especially since unlike his time in Oklahoma City, Harden this time is the primary scoring option.
The bottom line is that upon quickly analyzing both of these games, it is clear that the Rockets are a favorable playoff matchup for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies can beat them on the boards, out play them at the point guard position, and keep their star player James Harden in check and make things tough on him. The line “Houston, we have a problem” will definitely be uttered by Rockets fans if they find themselves in a playoff battle with the Grizzlies.