Team Records: Portland (30-10) at Memphis (28-11)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Memphis -2.5
Refs: Tom Washington, Courtney Kirkland, Ben Taylor
The Skinny: The Blazers finish up their quick two game road trip as they travel to Memphis to face the always tough Grizzlies. Memphis has found its groove again, winning two straight after losing three of the previous four. Memphis might be without the services of starting PG Mike Conley, who is questionable with an ankle sprain.
Last Time They Met: Memphis did what they usually do and held Portland down enough to get away with a fairly easy win. .Marc Gasol scored 26 points to lead Memphis to victory.
Projected Grizzlies Lineup:
PF: Zach Randolph (Michigan State, 14th season) – 16.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 1.4 APG
SF: Tony Allen (Oklahoma State, 11th season) – 8.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.6 APG
C: Marc Gasol (Spain, 7th season) – 19.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.5 APG
SG: Courtney Lee (Western Kentucky, 7th season) – 11.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG
PG: Beno Udrih (Slovenia, 11th season) – 7.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 3.2 APG
Player to Watch: Marc Gasol (pictured at right) – He might have entered the league as the lesser known Gasol but Marc is a very good player in his own right. An excellent rebounder, defender and scorer, Marc Gasol is the anchor for this Memphis team. That Memphis struggled so mightily when he was out for much of the early part of last season proves this point. Gasol has further improved his post game this year, which makes him even more efficient on offense. If Memphis is really a title contender, Gasol will probably be the biggest reason why.
Did You Know?: The Grizzlies’ 22-game regular season home winning streak was the longest such streak by an NBA team since Denver won 23-straight from Jan. 20-April 17, 2013.
Song of the Day: “Memphis Beat” by Jerry Lee Lewis. One of the signature songs about the city of Memphis. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-C Robin Lopez (Hand), PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
Memphis: Questionable-PG Mike Conley (Ankle)
Re-Evaluating Memphis: Title Contenders?
The biggest question for Memphis may be whether they can finally get over the hump and really make a title run this year. Personally, I’m skeptical, not because they’re a bad team, they’re in fact quite a good team, but because the west is so crazy deep that its foolish to bet on anyone as a “contender” when there are so many. Still, Memphis’s signature style is tough to beat and could be problematic in the playoffs. Add to that the fact that their core is playing as well or better as they’ve ever played and you have a recipe for Memphis to perhaps really be title contenders.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. Memphis is not capable of keeping up with the Blazers if they are forced to match Portland shot for shot. If the Blazers hit the century mark, they should win.
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.