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Houston Rockets vs. Memphis Grizzlies game preview

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With just ten games left in the NBA season, the Houston Rockets can see the finish line.

Yes, it’s not the massive (or even noticeable) improvement over last season that fans wanted to see, but like last season, we’re starting to see glimpses of hope as the season winds down. Part of that definitely has to do with guys like Jabari Smith Jr. finding a rhythm, and part of it probably has to do with opposing teams not taking the Rockets too seriously.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies are dealing with their own issues. Obviously, the Ja Morant Situation escalated to a suspension, but Morant quickly checked into a facility and is now back with the team and is expected to play tonight. There’s a lot to talk about with this, but for the sake of sanity I’m going to stay away from it. Suffice to say that some people think Morant shouldn’t have been punished at all, while others believe he wasn’t punished enough. That makes the nine games that Morant sat out sort of a compromise? Like I said, let’s move on.

Around the same time, the Grizzlies lost Brandon Clarke for the season with an Achilles tear. Clarke’s value comes in his ability to play as a four or small ball five. His intensity on defense is clear, and he fits well next to either Jaren Jackson Jr. or Steven Adams.

Speaking of Adams, the Kiwi big man has been out for two weeks after receiving a stem cell injection in his knee. He will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks.

Finally, Memphis is missing Dillon Brooks tonight due to an accumulation of technical fouls. Brooks picked up his 18th tech against the Mavericks so he’s out. As I’ve said, I enjoy Brooks as a villain and appreciate that he’s sort of picked up the mantle of Patrick Beverley and taken it to another level. I’d love to see Memphis and Golden State in another playoff series because someone is going to get knocked out.

Even with the injuries, suspension, and rust, I expect Memphis to win the game just like I expect most of Houston’s opponents to win. The Grizzlies need this game to maintain their spot in second place in the West.

Something to note is that these two teams will meet again Friday night in Memphis.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest