When: Thursday, December 26th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Can the Grizz make it three in a row? Does Seth Curry shock the world by hitting 12 threes in what could be his NBA debut? Theres loads of intrigue surrounding this Boxing Day showdown with the Rockets so lets not waste any more time and start breaking it down right now.
Expected Starting Lineups
Mike Conley vs Aaron Brooks
Win Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin both injured, the Rockets are lucky to have easily the best third-string point guard in the league in Brooks. His numbers have declined considerably from his 2009-10 campaign, when he won Most Improved Player, but he’s still a solid scorer, and could probably start for a few teams right now (the Lakers, anyone?). Still, he’s not the player he once was, and this matchup will likely favor Conley, who continues to take on a large share of the team’s load as Marc Gasol recuperates. Look for Brooks to have occasional scoring spurts, but also to disappear for large periods of time.
Tony Allen vs Francisco Garcia/James Harden
Harden has been struggling with injury problems as well, hurting hi foot last week, but he did play in last night’s game against the Spurs. Still, it’s possible that McHale will sit Harden, not wanting to play him two nights in a row when he may not be fully recovered yet. In which case, the Rockets will turn to Garcia, a solid three-point shooter whose most notable attribute is having the same name as the character in the Pogues’ song “Fiesta.” This si to say, he’s not a terribly exciting player, except when he really heats from downtown. As for Harden, well, we all know the sort of brilliance he’s capable of, and if he plays, Tony Allen is one of the few defenders in the NBA who even stands a chance against him.
Advantage: With Harden: Houston; Without Harden: Memphis
James Johnson vs Chandler Parsons
Since coming in last week, Johnson has actually been pretty good. In four games this season, he’s shot .500 from the field, and looks to be an improvement over Tayshaun prince in the starting lineup, as well as a capable replacement for the injured Quincy Pondexter. Really, it’s a bit surprising that it took this long for someone to take a chance on Johnson. Yes, he had a bad year with the Kings last year, but everyone knows that team i a complete mess, and a change of scenery would benefit anyone. plus, he did have the one game-winning three in that crazy game with the Knicks. Parsons quietly gets a bit better each yer, to the point where he may be receiving All-Star consideration in a few years. He’s both athletic and efficient, but due to the presence of harden and Howard, opposing teams often ignore him, to their severe peril.
Zach Randolph vs Terrence Jones
Jones has quietly has established himself as a solid spot starter, if not much else. he’s not going to blow anyone away, but he can hit a few shots in a row when no one’s looking. Really, Houston is the perfect spot for a player like him to hone his skills. With so many bigger names in the lineup, there won’t a be a great deal of pressure on him to produce right away, and whatever he can give the team will only make them better. With that said, he might have a difficult time against Z-Bo, one of the most intimidating bigs in the league. Look like Randolph to be Jones’s face all game long, looking to create unforced errors from the up-and-coming second year player.
Ed Davis vs Dwight Howard
Davis as the starting center has been interesting. With Koufos continuing to struggle from the field, and the team as a whole just generally looking uncoordinated, a change was necessary. Davis lacks the size of Koufos, but he’s a much better athlete, which may help the Grizzlies reacquire some of their frontourt intimidation. Dwight has played excellent basketball lately, looking a bit closer to the near-MVP season he had in 2010-11. Even if hes not quite at the level, he looks healthy, and he’s playing a lot better than he was for the Lakers at this time last year. This will be an interesting matchup, as Davis’s athleticism will really pay off. While he lacks the skill of Howard, he’s not far off in terms of strength and agility. look for these guys to trade blocks with each other for much of the night.
Just putting this right out there: I will be super bummed if Seth Curry doesn’t get some playing time. With Pondexter out, Curry gives them another solid three-point hooter. but really, I just want to see what the guy can do. i’m probably way too excited about him just because he’s Steph’s brother, but look at his D-League numbers - 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.58 steals a game. I feel like he could give the Grizz six or seven a game off the bench, and add some depth to a severely depleted second unit. As for Houston, they’re pretty beat up, too, especially at the guard spot. Omri Casspi (a lot of former Kings in this game, huh?) is a decent three-point shooter but hardly a game-altering player, while Donatas Motejunas figures to get some minutes just because there’s no one else. Hard to pick a favorite here when both teams are banged up. I’ll take the Grizz solely on the chance that Seth Curry goes on insane.