Grizzlies Preview: Rockets Landing In Memphis


Jan 25, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) guards Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) during the second half at FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies beat Houston Rockets 99 – 81. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, November 17, 2014, the Houston Rockets will touch down in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies, featuring the Western Conference’s top two teams in a battle of the best in the heated Southwest Division.

Below, you can find all the information that you will need to know before the tip-off of this action-packed boxing match between two elite teams.

Matchup Trends

Houston has gotten off to a hot start to the season, only losing one game thus far, similar to the Grizz. In order for Memphis to defeat the Rockets, they will need to contain the two Houston stars– Dwight Howard and James Harden.

Last season, the Grizzlies and Rockets split their season series 2-2. Memphis won the last two matchups, which happened on back-to-back nights, with the Grizz winning by one point in Houston followed by a blowout 18-point win in Memphis. The Grizzlies look for the same winning outcome when they face Houston on Monday night.

In case you missed it, here is a video highlighting all of the fouls drawn by James Harden in one of Houston’s wins against the Grizzlies back in December. Harden made 22 of his 25 attempted free-throws, although Marc Gasol was out due to injury. The free-throw differential was horrendous; the Grizzlies attempted just 20 free-throws as an entire team. Hopefully there will be above-average officiating in the upcoming game and thankfully this one will be played on the Grizzlies’ home floor.

Starting Fives (subject to change)

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Mike Conley (point guard), Tony Allen (shooting guard), Tayshaun Prince (small forward), Zach Randolph (power forward), Marc Gasol (center)

HOUSTON ROCKETS: Isaiah Canaan (point guard), James Harden (shooting guard), Trevor Ariza (small forward), Donatas Montiejunas (power forward), Dwight Howard (center)

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  • Things to Watch

    • Grizzly defense
    • Keep James Harden grounded
    • Gain advantage on rebounds
    • Put Howard in early foul trouble
    • Bench production

    Determining Factors

    1. Tony Allen. The Grindfather needs to have a huge game defensively. It seems as if the referees enjoy blowing the whistle early in favor of James Harden whenever Houston plays Memphis, so TA needs to keep this in mind. Trevor Ariza cannot be left open on the three-point line either, so Allen may be switched from guarding Harden to Ariza occasionally during the game.
    2. Grizzlies’ frontline. Dwight Howard, when motivated, can be a major problem in the paint for the opposition. When the Grizz foul him, they need to foul hard, so that the poor-shooting Howard has to earn his points from the charity stripe. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are both coming off of huge performances in their last game, so those efforts need to be displayed again by the big men. The Grizzlies will have a much greater advantage in the frontcourt if the Rockets’ Terrence Jones does not suit up due to injury.
    3. Foul trouble. The team that gets into less foul trouble will most likely win this matchup. Stars from both teams will be stepping up because of this high-profile matchup. Gasol and Randolph need to box out for rebounds and go up strong on both ends of the court.
    4. Contested shots. Houston loves its offense and throwing up shots, so the Grizz cannot afford to let them get hot. All shots need to be contested. Houston has some athletic bigs on their roster, so Z-Bo, Jon Leuer, and others need to be aware to step out on defense on Donatas Motiejunas and other jump-shooting bigs. An entire team effort has to be given on defense; otherwise, the Grizzlies may come up short of the victory.
    5. Bench versus bench. The bench production from the Grizzlies has been lackluster for the most part to begin the season. The deciding factor in this game may turn out to be which team’s bench produces the most. The second unit for Memphis needs to be ready to check into the game to GRIT, GRIND, and SCORE! The addition of Courtney Lee to the second unit should bring a scoring punch off the bench for Memphis.

    Key Game Notes

    • Courtney Lee will be facing one of his former teams (spent 2 seasons with Houston).
    • Memphis is looking to improve upon their three-game winning streak.
    • The Grizzlies are currently tied with the Houston Rockets in owning the NBA’s best record at 9-1.
    • Houston will be playing the second game of a back-to-back as they defeated the undermanned Thunder tonight (Sunday) in a close one in Oklahoma.

    Injury Report

    The Memphis Grizzlies are reporting no known injuries.

    The Houston Rockets are reporting injuries to Patrick Beverley (sore hamstring) and Terrence Jones (right leg contusion). Beverley is listed as probable; however, Jones is doubtful to play.

    Personal Prediction

    All in all, even though this matchup will be a challenging one for the Grizz, I believe the Grizzlies still maintain an advantage over the Houston Rockets. I predict the Grizzlies being victorious with a four-point win over Houston.

    Game Time

    This battle tips off at 7:00 P.M. CST in Memphis, Tennessee at the FedEx Forum. For those in Memphis, you can catch it on SportSouth television or listen to it on the radio at 92.9FM WMFS. It will also be televised on NBA League Pass.

    Go Grizz!