The Houston Rockets were able to bounce back from a blowout loss by taking out their frustrations on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tonight, they take on a red-hot Memphis Grizzlies team that has won their last five games.
Starting with a blowout win in Los Angeles over the Clippers, the Grizzlies have rattled off some impressive victories on their way to the eighth spot in the Western Conference. I think most of the NBA fandom has been surprised that they have been able to play at this level this quickly with all of their youth, but it’s a testament to new coach Taylor Jenkins and their bevy of young players performing well.
That starts with Ja Morant, the odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Morant has been consistently compared to Russell Westbrook due to his insane athleticism and ability to fill up the stat sheet. He’s shooting 49% from the field and 39% from deep. Brandon Clarke is a personal favorite and is another athlete for the Grizzlies. There were questions as to which position Clarke would be able to defend at the NBA level, but the answer has been “whatever position he wants.”
Jaren Jackson Jr. got off to a slow start coming off his injury last year, but he has been on a tear of late, averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s also shooting 58% from the field and 55% from three on just under 7 attempts per game, so he’s a deep threat for sure. Dillon Brooks has also carved out a niche for himself and has started pulling away his brand from “Isn’t he the other ‘Brooks’ guy that caused that one trade to fall through?”
The Grizzlies also have veterans in Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Kyle Anderson, and Rockets killer Jonas Valanciunas. Jenkins hasn’t shied away from going with an 11-man rotation, so Grayson Allen, De’Anthony Melton, and Tyus Jones are also getting run off the bench. With Mike D’Antoni’s famous seven- and eight-man rotations, we’ll get both ends of the depth spectrum tonight.
The Rockets will be without Westbrook, who will miss the game in order to only play one of the back-to-back with Portland coming to town Wednesday.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on NBA TV