Team Records: Portland (16-15) at Memphis (20-9)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Memphis -9
Refs: Bill Kennedy, Brent Barnaky, Sean Corbin
The Skinny: The Blazers continue their four game road trip with a trip to one of the west’s top team, the Memphis Grizzlies. Portland will be looking to bounce back from their horrible performance Wednesday night in Toronto. The Grizzlies have been struggling of late, losing three of their last five after a very hot start.
Last Season: Portland won the season series 2-1, winning both games at home and losing the only game on the road.
Projected Grizzlies Lineup:
PF: Zach Randolph (Michigan State, 12th season) – 16.7 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.3 APG
SF: Rudy Gay (Connecticut, 7th season) – 18 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.6 APG
C: Marc Gasol (Spain, 5th season) – 13.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.9 APG
SG: Tony Allen (Oklahoma State, 9th season) – 7.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, .7 APG
PG: Michael Conley (Ohio State, 6th season) – 13.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 6.4 APG
Player to Watch: Tony Allen (pictured at right) – First things first, if you don’t follow Tony Allen on Twitter, do it and do it now. He is one of the best and most entertaining athletes in any sport on there, perhaps because it is clear he is posting it and it reflects his thoughts, as bizarre and even crazy as they may seem at times. On the court, Allen is a defensive stopper, widely regarded as perhaps the best perimeter defender in the league. He can also get to the rim, although he lacks finishing ability and has an amusing tendency to blow easy layups. He is not the greatest decision-maker on offense and does tend to turn the ball over too much. Still, for the value of his defense, its more than worth it to deal with these shortcomings.
Did You Know?: Memphis has forced at least 10 turnovers in 133 straight games, by far the longest active streak in the league (New York is second with 43 such games in a row).
Song of the Day: “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” by the Grateful Dead. You can’t go wrong with the Dead. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achillies), C Meyers Leonard (Ankle)
Memphis: Out – SF Quincy Pondexter (MCL), Questionable-PG Jerryd Bayless (Ankle).
Memphis’ team is best analogized to a trash collector. If their opponent makes mistakes and turns the ball over, they will pick up the trash and make them pay. Memphis does a better job than anyone in the NBA of converting opponent mistakes into points. If a team starts playing sloppy, they can quickly find themselves on the wrong end of a big Memphis run. When they are forced to slow it down on offense, however, they do tend to struggle and are not a great half court offensive team. Doing this is more challenging than it might seem, however, and thus Memphis a tough foe for anyone to beat.
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.