Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Preview
The Houston Rockets have been slowly climbing up the Western Conference standings. If they want to move up again tonight, they’ll need to win on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies in a Southwest Division battle.
Houston is currently fourth in the Western Conference with a 26-12 record and they are just a half-game away from the red hot Utah Jazz for third. They won their most recent game, are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have a 12-8 record on the road. Memphis has been on a hot streak lately and beat the San Antonio Spurs as they moved past them in the West standings. They are eighth with a 18-22 record and have won their last five straight. The Grizzlies are 7-3 in their last 10 games and they are 10-12 at FedEx Forum.
The Rockets last faced off against the Grizzlies on November 4 and picked up the win in Memphis 107-100. James Harden went off for 44 points and six assists, as rookie Ja Morant had 23 points and six assists in a losing effort.
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Channel: NBA TV
Rockets: Russell Westbrook (DTD), Nene, Gerald Green (O)
Grizzlies: Jae Crowder, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke (Q), Andre Iguodala (O)
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is day-to-day, but he’s expected to be out for tonight’s game, but luckily for the Rockets, Eric Gordon’s name is finally off the injury report and he is expected to play his second game back tonight. While he won’t be a replacement for Westbrook, who had 30 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday night, he adds some depth to the Rockets’ rotation.
In their 139-109 blowout win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, several players played key roles, including backup big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who started for a sidelined Clint Capela. He finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds in just 26 minutes.
“He knows how to play, and he’s got energy,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He can really get James free by getting energy pick-and-rolls early in the half-court and James going down court. There’s a lot of things that Isaiah (does) that’s hard to teach, hard to coach it — he just does it. He knows how to do it.”
Harden led the Rockets in the win with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Ben McLemore added 13 points and Gordon came off the bench for 17 points.
The Rockets, with a healthy team, become a threat to everyone out West. With the services of Harden, Westbrook, and Gordon, the Rockets scored 45 points in the third quarter and never looked back.
Memphis Grizzlies Starting Lineup
In their five-game winning streak, the Memphis Grizzlies have picked up some key wins over the Los Angeles Clippers, a high-scoring Phoenix Suns team and brought the San Antonio Spurs back down to earth after they had bested the top two teams in the East.
On Sunday, the fifth win came in a 122-102 win over the Golden State Warriors. It was a very close game until the Grizzlies scored 35 points in the third quarter and limited the Warriors to just 17.
Now Memphis turns their attention to the Houston Rockets.
“Honestly, we’re continuing to focus on us,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Obviously, they’re going to present their unique challenges. Harden, the best scorer in the league, there’s going to be a lot of focus obviously on him. But for us, it’s about going out and continuing our momentum of what we’ve been working on.
“Defensively maybe using some different schemes, but all things we’ve been working on, just trusting in that. And offensively, continue to play with a great pace,” he said.
The Grizzlies pushed the pace against the Warriors and had success with Ja Morant serving as more of a distributor as he got several players involved in the offense.
Key Player Matchups
James Harden vs. Ja Morant
Harden and Morant should provide an entertaining matchup. I can see D’Antoni choosing to defend Morant with Gordon as well in some stretches. Morant is looking like one of the early Rookie of the Year favorites, while Harden has been solid in his quest for another MVP award.
Eric Gordon vs, Dillon Brooks
Gordon and Brooks are both talented shooters. Brooks may not have had the best game as he came off the bench on Sunday, but he gave San Antonio all they could handle on Friday. Gordon showed that he needed absolutely no time to get comfortable within the Rocket’s offense as he scored 17.
James Harden is the one clear stud in this game. He won’t come cheap at a FanDuel salary of $13k, but his projection of 63.8 points makes him a smart investment for fantasy owners.
In terms of value players, Eric Gordon is available for $4.8k and he’s projected for 23 points. Ja Morant has a salary of $7.4k with a projection of 28.74 points.
Bet on Matchup
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