Who: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (27-21), Houston Rockets (27-24)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Houston – Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Chandler Parsons, Luis Scola, Samuel Dalembert
Memphis sits in a precarious position heading into the final weeks of the season. On the good side the Grizzlies are healthier than they have been all season and only a game away from home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. On the negative side Z-Bo and Arenas aren’t in good game shape yet, Gasol and Conley are nursing sore ankles and the Grizzlies are only a game and a half out of the playoffs all together. With only two games separating 4th place and 9th in the Western Conference no team can afford to overlook an opponent.
The Grizzlies looked to be a team stumbling out of the playoffs just six days ago after an embarrassing loss to the Clippers in LA made it three straight losing efforts and five of the previous six games as well. However, a shockingly complete win against the Lakers in LA followed by a victory over Minnesota and a couple of days off have the Grizzlies looking ready to charge forward again.
Amazingly is hasn’t been the return of Zach Randolph that energized the team. It hasn’t been newly signed Gilbert Arenas. It’s been Marreese Speights and Jeremy Pargo, Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham, Tony Allen and Rudy Gay. In other words, it’s been a team effort. A team decision to not play down to the opposition but up to the highest level they can achieve.
Houston is currently in the 9th position in the Western Conference. If the season ended today they would miss the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive season despite a winning record. No other team in NBA history has done that. The Rockets are also expected to be missing their starting backcourt of Kevin Martin and former Grizz Kyle Lowry. Rumors are flying that Lowry could be out the rest of the season with a bacterial infection. Marcus Camby (left wrist) is back playing but may not be 100% but either way his presence off the bench likely means Haddadi will see action.
Patrick Patterson had a career night against Sacramento leading the Rockets to the win in OT but followed that game up with a 1-7 shooting night against Dallas. However Patterson is an able bench player behind starters Dalembert and Scola and will help provide needed depth against the Grizzlies front line.
Prediction: Houston is always a difficult place for the Grizzlies to play but they will be well rested and should be hungry. Grizzlies win.