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Houston Rockets vs. Memphis Grizzlies game preview

The Houston Rockets welcome the Memphis Grizzlies back to Toyota Center

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies are trying.

Xiane brought up a good point in his recap of Monday night’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs. He mentioned that the Spurs seemed to have checked out already. After 17 straight losses, that’s understandable. In the previous three seasons, we’ve seen the same thing happen with the Houston Rockets: there’s hope early in the year, then a string of tough losses, which is followed by the crushing realization that none of your games in the second half of the season are going to matter except for lottery purposes (which could involve your team drafting your replacement). Oh, and you and your teammates have been winners your whole life, especially in basketball. So this is a reality check you never really expected. It’s a tough road to hoe, but it happens to a few teams every season.

The Grizzlies know that the expectation was that they would be bad. Maybe not before the season started when they weren’t devastated with injuries. They knew that the goal was just to hold on for 25 games until Ja Morant returned from suspension. However, once Steven Adams was declared out for the season, coupled with the Brandon Clarke injury they already knew about, it started to look bleak. Then Marcus Smart got hurt after a poor start for the team, and it started to look like Grizzlies fans would be rolling up to Tankathon every day to simulate the lottery. Except, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum lottery.

It turns out that Desmond Bane is good. Like, really good.

Now, before Grizzlies fans come at me with “He was already good. You don’t know anything about our team” comments, let me continue. Yes, we knew he was good. Dillon Brooks is a Rocket now partly because Bane proved that he deserved a bigger role. However, with all the injuries, Bane has maintained the pace he set last year. Yes, the shooting numbers are all a bit down, but how many times have I mentioned that as usage goes up, efficiency goes down (non-James Harden in his prime division)? And Bane hasn’t regressed much despite being the primary scoring threat and creator. His overall efficiency hasn’t taken a nosedive. It’s been more of a small dip. That’s better than you could ask for if you’re the Grizzlies.

Jaren Jackson Jr. just dropped jaws with a 41-point explosion against Dallas on Monday night, so if you add his offensive ability to his already great defense, you’ve got a solid one-two punch in Bane and JJJ. And reinforcements are coming. Luke Kennard is expected back within the next week or so from a bone bruise. Smart is expected to return any day now (Friday’s game will be the four-week mark of a 3-5 week injury timetable). And Morant’s return is expected to come next Tuesday in New Orleans. It won’t be easy to climb back into the playoff race in the West, but I wouldn’t count the Grizzlies out just yet.

Tip-off

7pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network

Injuries/Other

Rockets

Reggie Bullock Jr.-GTD (illness)

Grizzlies

Marcus Smart-GTD (foot)

Brandon Clarke-OUT (Achilles)

Steven Adams-OUT (knee)

Luke Kennard-OUT (knee)

Ja Morant-OUT (suspension)

The Line (as of this post)

HOU -6.5

Looking ahead because we can

Friday on the road against Memphis

Poll

Poll

Higher point total tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Desmond Bane
    (19 votes)
  • 73%
    Fred VanVleet + Dillon Brooks combined
    (53 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now