Team Records: Portland (42-21) at Memphis (36-26)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Memphis -3
Refs: Marc Davis, Tony Brown, Courtney Kirkland
The Skinny: Whatever happened in Houston or Dallas happened and there is no changing that. What can be changed is how this team moves forward and gets back on track. Hopefully that starts tonight in Memphis. Memphis has won four of their last five overall and is in need for a win as it hopes to make a push for one of the final few playoff spots out west.
Last Time They Met: Memphis controlled the game from the opening tip, taking Portland completely out of rhythm in what was probably Portland’s worst home performance of the season. Portland was held to a season-low 81 points in the loss.
Projected Grizzlies Lineup:
PF: Zach Randolph (Michigan State, 13th season) – 17.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
SF: Tayshaun Prince (Kentucky, 12th season) – 6.1 PPG, 3 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Marc Gasol (Spain, 6th season) – 13.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.6 APG
SG: Courtney Lee (Western Kentucky, 6th season) – 9.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.5 APG
PG: Michael Conley (Ohio State, 7th season) – 17.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.2 APG
Player to Watch: Marc Gasol (pictured at right) – When Marc Gasol was named defensive player of the year last season, it was no fluke. Gasol is an elite defensive player with excellent skills both rebounding, defending and blocking shots. Additionally, for an elite big man Gasol doesn’t even commit that many fouls, averaging only 2.6 per game this season. Gasol’s offense is inconsistent but solid as well. He has a decent jump shot and has turned into an 81% free throw shooter as well. Along with Conley and Randolph, Gasol is one of the key pieces that make Memphis go and make them very tough to beat.
Did You Know?: Memphis is 55-8 when scoring at least 100 the past two seasons.
Song of the Day: “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty. It may seem like it but Portland is not actually free falling, just going through a rough patch. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee)
Memphis: Out – SF Quincy Pondexter (Foot)
Re-Evaluating Memphis: John Hollinger’s Portland Connection
When Memphis hired John Hollinger as their VP of Basketball Operations a few years, Hollinger became the second ex-Oregonian employee to hold a key personnel role in an NBA team (the other is of course former Wolves executive David Kahn). Hollinger served as Oregonlive’s sports editor for three years in the late 90s/early 2000s. During that time, Hollinger developed his much total Player Efficiency Rating (PER), which is now probably the single most cited advanced stat in the NBA today. He may have left Portland but Portland hasn’t left him, as anyone who follows Hollinger on Twitter and sees his constant jokes about Portland and bike lanes knows.
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.