This team was ignored early in the season because of its deceptively poor record. They started the season 2-7 but the take a look at who those seven losses came to: Magic, Grizzlies (with Z-Bo), Lakers, Clippers, Thunder (twice), and Spurs. Furthermore, six of those seven losses were on the road. Since the rough start the Rockets are 13-5 and 5-3 not the road. Their last game was a road loss to an improving Golden State team.
What They Do Well
The Rockets are 4th in the NBA in rebounds per game and rank third in rebound differential. Rebounding is a team effort for the Rockets. Samuel Dalembert leads the team with less than eight rebounds per game. Beyond him, the Rockets success on the boards is due in large part to effort. They come up with a lot of 50/50 balls and have guards who aren’t afraid to crash the paint.
The Rockets are 6th in the NBA in points per game. The Grizzlies remain in the top 10 in terms of points allowed so you would assume a lower scoring game favors the Grizzlies.
The Rockets are known for energy and effort and part of the reason for that is their depth. They have nine players averaging at least 20 minutes per game. In contrast, the Grizzlies have six. Kyle Lowry leads the Rockets in minutes per game at just under 35. The Grizzlies have three players averaging more than 35 minutes per game. Lionel Hollins will need to find a way to steal minutes for his stars and try to preserve their energy for the fourth quarter.
What They Don’t Do Well
Keep It Low (Scoring Defense)
The Rockets rank 20th in points allowed on a per game basis. Unfortunately, the offensively challenged Grizzlies are 22nd in scoring offense
Protect The Ball
This is always an area of interest given that the Grizzlies scoring is often predicated on forcing turnovers. The Rockets are not awful in this department ranking 15th in the league. However, even a middle of the pack ranking is an advantage for the Grizzlies as they still force more turnovers per game than any team in the NBA.
Player To Watch
If you have been paying attention to the NBA this season you’ve heard about the year Kyle Lowry is having. If you’ve been paying attention to the Grizzlies for several years, you were familiar with Lowry long before his recent success.
While still solid, his last few game haven’t been on pace with his ferocious start to the season. He has been banged up a bit by injury as of late but don’t expect that to matter tonight.
Lowry was the back-up point guard for the Grizzlies as recently as the 08-09 season. During that time he reportedly butted heads with Lionel Hollins. The belief is that Lowry was convinced he was better than starting point guard (and coach’s pet) Mike Conley.
Every time Lowry plays the Grizzlies he wants to destroy them. In past games he has had varying degrees of success. In some instances, the extra motivation has led to absolutely ridiculous performances. Other times, he appeared to be forcing things and ended up struggling.
Either way, the Conley-Lowry Matchup is always the one to watch when the Rockets come to town.
Keys To Grizzlies Success
Wear Normal Jerseys
Get Off to a Good Start
I know the comebacks are fun, but the Grizzlies are simply not good enough to continue starting in a hole. This will be especially important tonight due to the aforementioned depth of the Rockets. When the Grizzlies fall behind early it becomes difficult for Hollins to rest starters. Houston is exactly the type of the team you can’t afford to be exhausted against in the fourth quarter.
What Vegas Says
Memphis by 3
What I say
I say I have no clue anymore. The Grizzlies have become completely unpredictable against teams who are neither elite nor awful. It would be huge to start off what should be a big week with a win. For a more in depth look at the week ahead, listen to the weekly Grizzlies Podcast.