Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Preview
The Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies enter tonight’s game in Memphis both looking for wins to stop their two-game skids. The Rockets are ninth in the Western Conference with a 3-3 record, and Memphis is 13th at 1-4 in the West.
Both teams have struggled on defense early on, but Memphis will have to find their defense against James Harden. If Russell Westbrook, who is day-to-day, plays, it would be the first matchup between Westbrook and rising rookie Ja Morant. The Rockets are on the second night of a back-to-back, so the Grizzlies will likely look to push the action early to test the tired legs of the Rockets.
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Channel: ATTSN-SW, FSSE-MEM
Rockets: Russell Westbrook (DTD), Nene, Michael Frazier and Gerald Green (O)
Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr. (D), Grayson Allen and Andre Iguodala (O)
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
The Houston Rockets have had their share of struggles early on. Despite a clear talent upgrade with Russell Westbrook joining Harden and Co. in Houston, the Rockets have shown that they can get things done on offense, but they’ve been lacking on defense.
“We’ve got a lot of things to tighten up,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And we’ve got to get better production out of certain people defensively but we’re moving right along. I mean I think we will as soon as we get our legs. Shooting and defense are legs and heart. We’re either laboring or just not into people and just not there yet.”
After a very high scoring win against Washington, the Rockets lost against the Nets on Friday and then were blown out by the Miami Hear 129-100 last night.
While the defensive struggles were present, some offensive issues also reared their ugly heads as James Harden, who had 29 points, outscored all four of the other starters combined. The Rockets did get some help off the bench from Chris Clemons, who had 16 points, and Ben McLemore, who scored 14.
Memphis Grizzlies Starting Lineup
The Memphis Grizzlies have limped out to a 1-4 start, but that’s to be expected from such a young team. Still, new head coach Taylor Jenkins has seen some bright spots and is taking a patient approach.
“I always want to teach from the positive,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got to get significantly better defensively, protecting the paint, transition defense, whether it’s an individual player or for our team. We’ve got bright spots, and I keep using the phrase can we do it more consistently.”
The Grizzlies were routed by the Los Angeles Lakers last Tuesday, but they had a chance at getting their second win on Saturday over the Phoenix Suns. The Grizzlies scored 36 points in the fourth quarter, but they had been too far behind in their 114-105 loss.
Ja Morant continues to lead Memphis and had 24 points and seven assists. Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke had 16 points apiece in the loss.
Key Player Matchups
Russell Westbrook or Eric Gordon vs. Ja Morant
There’s a chance Westbrook may not play, which could keep us from seeing a matchup of one of the league’s best point guards in Westbrook against impressive rookie point guard Ja Morant. It’s a battle of the present and the future at the position. If Westbrook does not play, look for Eric Gordon to step in and defend the young pg.
James Harden vs, Dillon Brooks
In his third season, Brooks looks to be taking another step forward. He’s been up and down, but he’s showing that he is clearly advancing in his development. Tonight though, he takes on a walking triple-double of James Harden. Harden has only scored under 20 points once all season so far, and that was in the season-opener, where he struggled mightily from the field and beyond the ard, but he got past that quickly and has been nothing but dominant since.
James Harden is the one clear stud in this game. He’s been on a tear, even seeing to raise his game against some of the league’s best. He has the highest projection, 64.25 points of any player on tonight’s slate of games. He is available for $10.8k on Fan Duel.
Memphis doesn’t really have a stud player at this point, so look to Ja Morant as your value pick, with a $6.6k salary and a projection of 26.88 points. He’s coming off a nice game against Phoenix, so I could see him topping that projection. Eric Gordon continues to be a steal at just $4k with a projection of 24.78 points. Gordon has one of the highest points per $1k ratings at 6.20.
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