Team Records: Memphis (50-24) at Portland (33-41)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW/NBATV, radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Memphis -4
Refs: Tony Brothers, Pat Fraher, Courtney Kirkland
The Skinny: The Blazers look to rebound from their fifth straight loss as they open a long home stand against playoff contenders against the surging Grizzlies. Memphis has won three straight and is in a tough battle with Denver and the LA Clippers for the 3-5 seeds in the west.
Last Time They Met: It was a familiar tale for the Blazers as they dug themselves a big hole, made a nice run but were unable to climb out as Memphis won in Portland.
Projected Grizzlies Lineup:
PF: Zach Randolph (Michigan State, 12th season) – 15.5 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 1.5 APG
SF: Tayshaun Prince (Kentucky, 11th season) – 10.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.5 APG
C: Marc Gasol (Spain, 5th season) – 14.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.9 APG
SG: Tony Allen (Oklahoma State, 9th season) – 9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 APG
PG: Michael Conley (Ohio State, 6th season) – 14.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 6.2 APG
Player to Watch: Michael Conley (pictured at right) – A few years into his career Conley was hardly impressing anyone, turning the ball over too much, having trouble defending players and often exhibiting really poor shot selection. How times have changed. Conley is an improving floor general with great hands and quickness, along with a good outside shot (that he is finally using at a good rate). Conley is also excellent at forcing steals and although he is otherwise not a very good defender, those steals often lead to easy Memphis points, important for a team that can stagnate at times on offense. He will be a challenge for Portland on Wednesday.
Did You Know?: Memphis is 17-6 since the all star break, good for the third best record in the NBA during that span.
Song of the Day: “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins. With their playoff hopes gone, the Blazers had best treasure each one of the remaining games this season and this song captures this mood. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Ankle).
Re-Evaluating Memphis: Does Home Court Matter to Memphis?
There is no doubt that every NBA team would rather play as many playoff games as possible at home but it matters more for some teams, Denver say, than others. For Memphis, they have been pretty consistent both away from home and at home this year and their upset of the Spurs two years ago in the playoffs show they don’t mind winning playoff games on the road. So while it may be preferable that Memphis have home court in this year’s playoffs, it is by no means a necessity for this bunch.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They take care of the ball. If Portland doesn’t turn the ball against Memphis, they will take away Memphis’ primary offensive weapon and stand a good chance of beating them.
Memphis wins if: They are able to stretch the Portland defense. Memphis is not a great jump shooting team. If they can reverse that, get hot tonight and stretch the Portland defense, opening up the inside to easy baskets, they should be able to score enough points to win.