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Rockets face Grizzlies, October 2, in preseason opener

Posted: October 1, 2018

The NBA reduced the number of preseason games from 8 to 4. Depending on the team, fewer preseason games might mean more minutes for veterans who are working into game shape. Fewer preseason games also means the NBA stars might play more minutes in the preseason match-ups taking place in non-NBA cities such as Birmingham, AL.

The Houston Rockets will face the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday, October 2, at 7 p.m. (CDT), in Birmingham.

"They (fans) will get to see a good game," Rockets Head Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It makes each game much more important than it used to be."

D'Antoni and guard Eric Gordon like the shortened preseason games.

"Yeah, I like it because teams gotta figure out who they are," Eric Gordon said. "We know who we are. We're ready to get this season started as soon as possible.

"It's good the NBA limited the amount of preseason games."

Gordon is not concerned with playing more minutes in the preseason due to fewer games.

"Coach told us, 'Everybody get ready and prepared because we're going to treat every (preseason) game like a real game. Like we're getting ready for the regular season; so, it's good. We're going to try to win every game if possible -- even in the preseason."

Mike D'Antoni said, "Yeah, I think we'll try to get ready quicker. I do anyway. I think we're treating them (almost) as dress rehearsals.

"With a veteran team, it's a lot easier because you kind of just try to get work them into shape. You don't have to teach as much.

"It (the shortened preseason) changes things up a little bit. We have to make sure we treat each game the right way."

With the shortened preseason, D'Antoni hopes to finalize his player rotation and see who plays well with whom.

"Game shape. Really, the only way you can get in shape is by playing games. And, getting guys in their roles and feeling good about themselves. Little bitty things that come out of it that we haven't seen before or we're anxious to see."

James Harden believes playing more minutes in the shortened preseason is a benefit.

"I think for basketball players the only way you get in game shape is actually playing. There's really no strength and conditioning or running that you can do other than playing basketball and running up and down. It will be good to get a good flow out there obviously, individually, and for the unit as well."

D'Antoni plans to play his core group 20 to 30 minutes Tuesday.

"They'll play 20 to 30 minutes," D'Antoni said. "They're going to play. We'll see how the game goes. See how they feel. If somebody gets winded, we'll probably take them out; but, they're going to get a good run."

Harden is looking forward to facing an opponent other than his Rockets' teammates.

"For sure. Tired of going against the same faces. Beating up on each other. It will be really good to compete against somebody else.

"Go and see the things that we've been working on and test. So, tomorrow should be good for us."


P.J. Tucker (sore back), NenĂª (calf strain) and Brandon Knight (knee) will not play in Tuesday's game.

D'Antoni said, in general, the injuries are not serious.

"Obviously, they have something (an injury) that they can't play. Whether they'd play in a regular season game, probably not; but, if it would have been the playoffs, they would probably of (played).

"P.J. has got a little back issue. We'll make sure that's okay. He's fine. NenĂª's strain. Just normal aches and pains we're going through."

P.J. Tucker won't play Tuesday due to a sore back; but, Tucker says the sore back is not a big deal.

"Not a setback at all," Tucker said. "Back soreness; so, we thought there was no reason for me to travel to Birmingham and get on this flight for a day trip; so, just rest up and get better."

Tucker describe the sore back as aggravating.

"A little bit; But, you know it happens especially going in training camp as hard as we've been going. It's all been good. Even though I could probably play, just gonna sit out, and get all the way one hundred percent ready. Get ready for the regular season."

Tucker tweaked his back in practice.

"But, like I said, I could probably still play; but, there's no need."

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