Okay, so I have to beg for forgiveness here. This is not the mailbag preview I promised before the end of 2018. Personal issues (nothing major, but annoying nevertheless) have conspired against a finished product. I’ll stay vague with my prediction for when I can finish it, but it shouldn’t be too long.
Since these teams last met on December 15, the Grizzlies are 2-4 with losses to the Warriors, Blazers, Kings, and Celtics. Their wins came against the Lakers and Cavs.
That Celtics loss came just two days ago and it’s a pretty hot topic in Memphis right now. With the Grizzlies up 19, the Celtics put the clamps on and outscored Memphis 65-39 in the second half. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff blamed officials for allowing the Celtics to play extra physical with Mike Conley.
Since that last matchup, Houston has lost both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon to injury and neither will be available tonight. Memphis is fairly healthy with no major injuries.
Both the Rockets and Grizzlies like to slow the pace down, as they rank 28th and 30th, respectively, in possessions per game. Neither team is especially great on the boards, with Memphis especially favoring getting back on defense rather than going for offensive rebounds. That would have been just fine with Houston weeks ago, but recently the boys in red have sank Clint Capela back into the paint and made defensive adjustments to prioritize defense and rebounding. Colin covered this the other day and I highly encourage you to check out what he wrote.
The most interesting thing tonight will probably be figuring out who the third true guard will be in the rotation. Will Mike D’Antoni give Michael Carter-Williams another shot, or is it Brandon Knight’s time to shine after getting recalled from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Tip-off is at 6pm CT