Memphis Grizzlies (27-20) at Portland Trail Blazers (20-27)
Jan. 27, 2017, 7:00 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Ed Davis (out), Festus Ezeli (out), Moe Harkless (questionable), Tim Quarterman (questionable)
Grizzlies injuries: Chandler Parsons (probable), JaMychal Green (probable), Troy Daniels (questionable), Brandon Wright (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues
After two tightly contested games already this year, the Trail Blazers will host the Grizzlies for the first time this season in the Moda Center. Portland will be looking to ride the momentum of a win over the Lakers on Wednesday, while Memphis is just starting a six-game road-trip.
The Grizzlies’ 27-20 record is impressive when you consider the amount of injury-troubles they’ve faced in the first few months of the season. Mike Conley is playing at a high level once again, but Memphis is still in the process of getting the rest of its roster healthy. In a victory over the Raptors on Wednesday, the Grizzlies fielded only eight players, putting a huge burden on their starting five.
The lack of depth that Memphis is dealing with is truly alarming. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter are on the backside of their careers, but both players managed to tally 30 minutes of playing time in the Grizzlies’ last outing.
Marc Gasol and Conley are the catalysts behind one of the most methodical attacks in the NBA, as only the Mavericks and Jazz play at a slower pace than the Grizzlies. Either one of Memphis’ stars are capable of giving Portland headaches, but Gasol has been a complete nightmare this season. In a December victory over Portland, the talented center accounted for nearly half of all the Grizzlies’ points.
The Trail Blazers are well rested, which should give them a nudge in the right direction in tonight’s contest. Portland’s backcourt faces a major challenge in this game, as both Conley and Tony Allen are above-average defenders at their respective positions.
Damian Lillard has struggled against Memphis in the first two meetings this season, connecting on only 31 percent of his attempts from the field. CJ McCollum has shined in the midst of his counterpart’s struggles though, as his 37-point performance carried the Blazers to victory over the Grizzlies in early November.
Lillard’s scoring wasn’t the problem in the last meeting though, as his late foul on Toney Douglas sent him to the free throw line, securing the victory for Memphis. Douglas is no longer with the Grizzlies, but Portland’s suspect defense still lingers.
Outside of the backcourt, Meyers Leonard will likely see an enhanced role in this matchup. With Ed Davis sidelined, coach Terry Stotts will be in need of size to combat Memphis’ traditional frontcourt pairings. Leonard is in the middle of his worst offensive season of his career, but he has been serviceable on defense when facing lumbering centers.
The Grizzlies boast the fourth-best defensive rating in the league, but the Trail Blazers must find a way to remain efficient on offense tonight. Portland barely shot over 30 percent from the field the last time these two teams met, which ultimately doomed them in the end.
If the Trail Blazers can somehow get out to an early lead in this one, it will put the Grizzlies in an uncomfortable situation. Owners of the eighth-worst 3-point percentage in the league, Memphis lacks the tools to cut into large deficits. If Portland can dictate the pace of this game, they have a solid chance of securing another victory at home.
Help Us With Blazer’s Edge Kids Night 2017!
Help us send 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring! At this point we’re still a few hundred tickets short. If we don’t band together and donate those tickets, the kids don’t get to go. Here’s how you can help.