Grizzlies Vs. Rockets: Houston, Expect Another Problem

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Get ready Grizznation, it’s Game Day! In case you didn’t already know: This game is a BIG DEAL. The Grizzlies remain undefeated at home while the Rockets remain undefeated on the road. We have something to prove tonight. With a win in tonight’s game the Grizzlies not only take the lead in our division but become the only team in the league with only 1 loss. My PSA for tonight’s game: get yourself to the Grindhouse, gather your heart pills, have your bar money ready and be prepared to ride one crazy emotional roller coaster. I’m not going to sugar coat it; the Rockets will be our most difficult opponent yet this season, even on a back to back.

The Grizzlies host the Rockets Monday night at 7pm at the FedEx Forum in what is sure to be a hard fought and entertaining game. The Rockets have been playing stellar offense and defense. They are neck in neck with the Grizzlies in points allowed per game and have been dominant on the scoreboard. Containing Dwight Howard and James Harden is going to be key to a Grizz win. Howard and Harden have made quite the pair in this young NBA season. Howard shows up on the league leaders list for Field Goal Percentage, Blocks per game and Rebounds per game, while Harden is one of the league’s leading scorers. By now we all know about the egg the Rockets laid in OKC on Sunday night. They managed to fly out of OKC with a win despite shooting 29% from the field and scoring only 69 points, with only 8 being contributed by their bench. I expect them to not settle for this performance again.

What can we look forward to seeing from the Grizz?

Our final 2 matchups against Houston last season came with back to back wins and we got those by playing our brand of basketball. Each of those wins came from grind it out games that forced the Rockets into playing half court offense. Zach and Marc will have to box Howard out and be dominate on the Offensive Boards. Aggressive Marc is going to be a must for this game, plus I miss seeing him so he should know it’s about time to come back. He needs to be dominate in the post and be willing to take the shot or create contact. That should lead to Howard being in early foul trouble, which will ease his impact and open up the scoring lane. In our wins against Houston last year the Grizzlies dominated in the paint and I expect us to do that again.

The Grizzlies defense on Harden is also going to be key. We know he is going to get the call and spend plenty of time on the line. Expect to see Courtney Lee and Tony Allen switching up on coverage. Tony’s eager defensive presence could create reason for early whistles and trips to the line. Our focus should be to make Harden earn all his points tonight and forcing him into bad shots. Along with defending Harden, defending the elusive 3-point line is going to be a must. The Rockets have made an average of 11.8 3-pointers per game so far this season vs our average of 5.3. They have 5 strong shooters all averaging over 42% from beyond the arc in Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley, Isaiah Canaan and Jason Terry. Last night was a horrific shooting night for the Rockets but they took 35 3’s. The Grizzlies will have to ensure that they do not allow any of these guys to get hot.

So far this season our bench has had it’s ups and downs. We are beginning to see them start to gel and become a stronger offensive presence. Bench production is going to have impact in this game. The Rockets have also not had a strong bench so far this season and have been dependent on their starters and contributors like Jason Terry for their high scoring wins. The Grizzlies must capitalize on this and not allow offensive drop-off when the bench comes in. I’m ready for our guys to continue to show up. Beno has emerged as a true leader off the bench and I expect him to have a great game again.

You can catch tonight’s game on SportSouth or tune into 92.9 ESPN. Tickets are still available so go grab one! This game is sure to be one that you don’t want to miss!




Tabitha Smith

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