- Updated: January 12, 2016
All year long they’ve teased us.
After opening the year 0-3, a 4-0 run (including wins over OKC and LAC) had fans thinking the first three games of the season were a fluke, this was the real Rockets. Of course, any hope came crashing down as a 4-game skid ensued, with losses to Denver, Brooklyn, Dallas, and Boston.
They won 3 straight to open December! Then proceeded to lose three of their next five contests.
They took 4 of 5 including a win over the Spurs on Christmas day…four game losing streak starting day after Christmas.
So what’s the next chapter in the dim tale of the Rockets 2016 season?
They enter tonight’s affair with the Griz having won a home-and-home with the Jazz and a thrilling OT victory against the Pacers.
Can they push the streak to 4? Here’s a look at tonight’s game and what the Rockets need to do in order to keep pressing upwards in the thick race that is the Western Conference
Memphis Grizzlies (21-18, currently hold 6th seed in the West)
Expected Starting Lineup:
PG- Mario Chalmers
SG- Courtney Lee
SF- Matt Barnes
PF- Jeff Green
C- Marc Gasol
Notable Injuries (Mike Conley- doubftul, Matt Barnes- GTD)
Houston Rockets (19-19, currently hold 7th seed in West, 1.5 games back of Memphis)
Expected Starting Lineup:
PG- Patrick Beverley
SG- James Harden
SF- Trevor Ariza
PF- Clint Capela
C- Dwight Howard
Notable Injuries (Donatas Motiejunas- out, Ty Lawson- suspension)
Key Matchup: Mario Chalmers vs. Patrick Beverley
Following his trade from Miami to Memphis, Grizzlies point guard Mario Chalmers has fit like a glove in Memphis’ Grit and Grind style. Recently, he’s done an admirable job filling in for Mike Conley who continues his recovery from an achilles injury. In the past 3 games, he’s played 37 minutes, averaging 18 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast. The veteran has masked any ill-effects of Conley’s absence, leading the team to 2 wins in his 3 starts.
Patrick Beverley is going to have his hands full Tuesday night, but Chalmers and the Grizzlies have to be equally aware of the Wolverine’s hot hand. Following Christmas day, Beverley has been inferno, shooting 63.6% (14-22) from three. Known as a streaky shooter, the feisty point guard needs to continue putting up shots, and JB Bickerstaff and Co. need to ensure he gets the ball on the perimeter.
Rockets 103 – Grizzlies 96
Houston seems to have found its mojo, and as long as the hot shooting continues, they should be able to take care of business in Tennessee. Dwight will be occupied at the defensive end with Marc Gasol, so it’s on James Harden to create enough offense to go around. Also don’t forget to keep an eye on the point guard matchup as both team’s backcourts will play a big role in setting the tone for the contest.
I’ll be live tweeting the game which tips off at 7:00 CT. Follow along at @MaddoxOnSports
-Bradley Maddox @MaddoxOnSports