Team Records: Memphis (39-14) at Portland (36-18)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -3.5
Refs: Jason Phillips, Marat Kogut, LeRoy Richardson
The Skinny: The Blazers open up a tough homestand as they face the always challenging Grizzlies in Afflalo and Gee’s Blazers debut. Memphis comes in having not played since before the all-star break. Memphis has lost their last two road games.
Last Time They Met: Memphis did what they usually do and held Portland down enough to get away with a win. .Beno Udrih hit two clutch shots late to give Memphis the win.
Projected Grizzlies Lineup:
PF: Zach Randolph (Michigan State, 14th season) – 16.8 PPG, 12 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Jeff Green (Georgetown, 7th season) – 15.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Marc Gasol (Spain, 7th season) – 18.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.7 APG
SG: Courtney Lee (Western Kentucky, 7th season) – 10.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.1 APG
PG: Mike Conley (Ohio State, 8th season) – 16.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.3 APG
Player to Watch: Jeff Green (pictured at right) – Yet another player that OKC wishes it hadn’t traded away perhaps, acquiring Jeff Green from Boston this year was perhaps one of the best moves Memphis has made in a quite a while. He fits perfectly on a team that has often struggled when forced to shoot outside as he is a strong spot up shooter from deep. Green does well as a supporting cast member, which is exactly what he is in Memphis. He can be inconsistent and his defense is not great but Green was exactly what Memphis needed and a great pickup for GM, and former Portland resident, John Hollinger.
Did You Know?: Memphis is 29-2 when outreboudning opponents this season.
Song of the Day: “The Thrill is Gone” by BB King. I love this song and BB King is associated with Memphis so I went with it. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
Memphis: Out-SG Vince Carter (Foot)
Re-Evaluating Memphis: Grit and Grind
Memphis is not the most entertaining team to watch. They are ugly, they play fundamentally sound but not particularly entertaining basketball. Yet, for them, the grit and grind works quite well. Here’s the thing, who cares how you win if you are able to win? For Memphis, the grit and grind is the style best suited to their lineup and their coach. At least for Memphis, ugly is indeed quite beautiful.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They stop Memphis’s 3 point makes. Memphis has killed the Blazers from deep in both matchups this year. If the Blazers are able to stop Memphis’s deep makes, they should be able to win..
Memphis wins if: They successfully mount a balanced offensive attack. Memphis is not a team that typically beats you because one player absolutely goes off. Instead, they are at their best when they have a balanced attack. If they are able to do so Sunday, they should win.