GAME: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston
Time: 7:00 pm CST
PLACE: The FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (0-2), Houston (1-1)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Jeremy Pargo, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Houston – Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Luis Scola, Jordan Hill
The Grizzlies are at home for the second game in a row, coming off a tough loss to the Thunder that saw Mike Conley go down with an ankle injury in the opening minute of the game. Jeremy Pargo came in and surprised many people by harassing Russell Westbrook into an absolutely abysmal game, which probably kept the game closer than it might have otherwise been.
Houston arrives in town fresh off their first victory of the young season, a win at home over San Antonio last night. The Spurs, of course, opened the season with a win over Memphis. The Rockets looked much more energetic and efficient in last night’s game in contrast to their opener against Orlando.
For the Grizzlies to win, they will need to do two things. First, feed the big dogs. I cannot stress this enough. Getting Zach and Marc going early will always (ALWAYS!) pay dividends, just like it did throughout last season. Both are capable of playing the high and low post and are good passers. Making teams hedge towards them every time they touch the ball will result in open looks and wider driving lanes for everyone else.
The second thing they will have to do is put Kevin Martin in a straitjacket tonight. He has torched the Grizzlies on numerous occasions, so Tony Allen will have to focus all of his energy and attention on locking him down tonight. If he gets hot early, it could make for a long night on Beale Street.
Houston’s key to victory will be to limit Rudy Gay’s involvement and to get Scola involved as much as possible. The matchup of point guards will likely end up in a near-draw, but the one area where strength meets weakness in this contest is at SF where Rudy will be matched up with Chase Budinger and Marcus Morris — neither a defensive stalwart. If they can manage to make him settle for jumpers though, that will limit his effectiveness.
Scola is one of the craftiest, most skilled players that not enough people talk about. He can make both Z-Bo and Marc work on both ends of the floor, so that could force either one of them to the bench more often than usual, when they expend all that energy.
Prediction: Grizzlies win semi-comfortably after recapturing their “grit and grind” style against OKC.