Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1, Game 1, Portland at Memphis
Series Status: Series Tied 0-0
Game Info: 5 PM, TV on KGW/TNT, Radio on 620 AM
TNT Announcers: Kevin Calabro, Brent Barry
Vegas Line: Memphis -5
Refs: James Capers, Eric Lewis, Tom Washington, Brent Barnaky (Alternate)
The Skinny: The real season begins tonight as the Blazers face the Memphis in the opener of the first round playoff series. The two teams both have had good years but teams are judged, in the end, on what happens in mid-April to June and not from November to mid-April. Hopefully the Blazers put the pressure on Memphis tonight.
Season Series: Memphis won the season series 4-0
Series in Review (Home team in bold for completed games, *=If necessary):
Game 1-Sunday at Memphis-5 PM (TNT/KGW)
Game 2-Wednesday at Memphis-5 PM (TNT/KGW)
Game 3-Saturday at Portland-7:30 PM (ESPN/KGW)
Game 4-Monday at Portland-7:30 PM (TNT/KGW)
Game 5*-April 29 at Memphis
Game 6*-May 1 at Portland
Game 7*-May 3 at Memphis
Projected Grizzlies Lineup:
PF: Zach Randolph (Michigan State-14th season) – 16.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.2 APG
SF: Jeff Green (Georgetown-7th season) – 15 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Marc Gasol (Spain-7th season) – 17.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG
SG: Courtney Lee (Western Kentucky-7th season) – 10.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2 APG
PG: Mike Conley (Ohio State-8th Season) – 15 PPG, 3 RPG, 5.4 APG
Player to Watch: Zach Randolph (pictured at right) – To many blazers fans, including yours truly, Zach Randolph represents everything that was wrong about the Jail Blazer era. His infamous “Hoop Family” was everything the fans hated about the team, but that era is thankfully long gone and no one (except for Blaze the Trail Cat) still remains in any meaningful on-court visible role (well Paul Allen, but he hardly counts). Zach was always talented, that was for sure, but there was a reason he was known derisively as Stat-Bo, he was too often concerned with putting up big stats than winning. Well, it took him a while but since he he landed in Memphis several years ago, he’s learned how to win too. He still can’t jump much off the ground and sure he’s not all the player he once was but he’s aging quite gracefully. Zach is still a force to reckoned with for the Blazers.
Did You Know?: Memphis coach Dave Joerger took 153 games to reach 100 wins, second fastest in the NBA among current head coaches (Coach Thibs of Chicago…130).
Song of the Day: “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguliera. The top song on the charts the week the Blazers drafted Zach Randolph. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Wesley Matthews (Achilles), SF Dorrell Wright (Hand), Doubtful-SG Arron Afflalo (Shoulder), Questionable-PF Alonzo Gee (Foot)
Memphis: Questionable-PG Michael Conley (Foot), SG Tony Allen (Back), SF Jeff Green (Back)
Know Your Enemy: Reviewing Memphis’s Season
Memphis went into the year as a good but not great team. Expected to contend for a division title and perhaps win a series or two, this Grizzlies bunch was not seen as true title contenders. Well they may not be but they are playing as well as anyone else, outside of injuries. Marc Gasol has found another level, Zach is his steady self and their disruptive style of play is very tough to play against. Memphis’s offense is slow, methodological and reasonably effective, ranked 26th in pace and 14th in offensive efficiency. Where they are most dangerous is if they can hit from deep. Memphis can be vulnerable if they aren’t making 3 pointers or mid range jumpers but if they are, they can be very hard to stop. Memphis’s defense is at the heart of their success, ranking fourth in efficiency and they pride themselves on disruption. Memphis likes to make you uncomfortable and force you into making mistakes and if you do, they can convert those mistakes into easy points. They are a very good team and will be tough for anyone to take down in a playoff series.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They stop Memphis from making 3s. When Memphis doesn’t hit from deep, they are vulnerable. If the Blazers can slow them down from outside, they should snatch game one.
Memphis wins if: They make Portland play sloppy. Memphis can stagnate if they aren’t forcing turnovers. If they can make the Blazers play sloppy, they will get into their desired flow and should be able to go 5-0 against the Blazers so far this year.