The season series between the Rockets and Grizzlies comes to a quick conclusion tonight. The seventeenth game of the season will mark the fourth time the two teams have met. Memphis looks to win the series tonight while Houston looks to even it up.
JB: What is Houston's biggest weakness so far?
JM: Defense, I guess? But being 14th in the NBA in defensive rating is more forgivable when you are an offensive machine like the Rockets are. Now that Chris Paul is back, we will likely see the full power of this D'Antoni system. A lineup of Paul/Harden/Gordon/Anderson/Capela is terrifying- Four shooters, two elite facilitators, and an excellent finisher at the rim. It's borderline perfect.
JB: What is Memphis's biggest weakness so far?
JM: Defense, but unlike Houston the Grizzlies do not have the offense to make up for their shortcomings on the defensive end of the floor. Outside of a few players (Marc Gasol, Brandan Wright, Chandler Parsons believe it or not) the Grizzlies have been abysmal on this end of the floor. They also have struggled rebounding, ranking 27th in the NBA in total rebounds according to basketball-reference.com. Defense was Tony Allen's calling card, and Zach Randolph once owned the boards for the Grizzlies. Whether it is because of all the roster turnover or new schemes being implemented and getting used to them, Memphis is having real issues currently in those areas.
JB: How much would you like to see a Memphis-Houston playoff series?
JM: Not very much, because right now Houston is that much better than Memphis. There have been bright spots- Tyreke Evans is having arguably the best season of his career, Marc Gasol has had several brilliant perfomances, and Chandler Parsons is a good basketball player again...at least as a reserve sixth man forward type. But Mike Conley is struggling/is not healthy, and even with Mike in the fold at full strength Houston has too much fire power. It is early, and I reserve the right to change my mind as the season grinds on, but as of today? Add the Rockets next to the Warriors as teams I do not want to see in the first round.
JB: What are your thoughts on the Memphis-Houston season series so far?
JM: The Grizzlies have benefited from Chris Paul's injury, plus Memphis continues to be a team that gets up for the big games (winning record against Houston, beat Golden State) and drop games that they shouldn't (0-4 against the Eastern Conference? LOL.) The series ends Saturday, hilariously, and it couldn't have gone much better realistically for Memphis. A split with the Rockets is a victory in and of itself.
JB: Who will win the game on Saturday night?
JM: Has to be Houston. The game being in Memphis, with no one picking the Grizzlies to win, will likely mean Memphis pulls it off because that is how this season has been so far. But with Conley limited at best, and with how poorly the Grizzlies defense has played of late (the Pacers scored 97 points in three quarters Wednesday night), there's no rational way someone can pick the Grizzlies. Houston by 8 or so points is the pick.