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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Preview

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The Blazers’ five-game road trip begins in Memphis.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (9-7) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7-8)

Monday, November 20th - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Al-Farouq Aminu (out)
Grizzlies injuries: Mike Conley (out), Brandan Wright (out), Wayne Selden (out), Ivan Rabb (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

Injury update: Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl tweeted that Grizzlies wing Tyreke Evans will suit up tonight.

The Blazers continued their up-again down-again play over the weekend, splitting a home-and-home with the Sacramento Kings. Friday’s loss was a contender for worst of the season, while Saturday night’s win was a solid team effort. Anybody want to bet on which version of the Blazers we’ll get against Memphis?

The Grizzlies are struggling at the moment. They’ve lost their last four games, including a 105-83 home loss on Saturday to the Houston Rockets. Their task against the Blazers isn’t made any easier without the services of Mike Conley, out indefinitely with an Achilles tendon injury.

What to watch for

  • Grizzly fast breaks. Memphis is a top-five fast break team. With Conley, out they need to get as many easy points as they can. The good news is that the Blazers are a top-five team in preventing fast break points. The easiest way to prevent Grizzlies fast breaks is to challenge for every board on the offensive end and make it difficult for their bigs to make the quick outlet pass. Making Memphis earn every point in the half-court game will be key to a Blazer victory.
  • The battle for the paint. In the previous matchup between the two teams earlier in the year in Portland, Jusuf Nurkic had stretches where he hung out the welcome sign for any Grizzly who had a notion to score in the paint. The Blazers can’t allow that generosity to happen again. Memphis is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league at 33.5 percent, so forcing Memphis to try to score from deep should work well for Portland if they can manage it.
  • The Blazers need to play their game. When the two teams played in Portland, the Grizzlies forced the Blazers to play at their speed. The Blazers were below their average in field goal attempts, assists, rebounds, 3-point shot attempts and free throws. If the Blazers can control the tempo to their liking, they have every chance of leaving Memphis with a win.

What they’re saying

Ronald Tillery of USA Today has an interview with Marc Gasol on the state of the Grizzlies:

The Grizzlies are mired in a four-game losing streak, and their record (7-8) is below .500 after starting the season 5-1 last month. When the 7-footer finally emerged from the shower to speak in a postgame media scrum, Gasol paused for several moments before answering the first question.

His words were measured as Gasol had plenty to say about what ails the Grizzlies.

Q: What are the problems with the team?

A: “There’s a few of them, obviously. I think selfishness, but I don’t want to think it’s in a bad way. I don’t think guys are being selfish intentionally. But they’re thinking too much, or they’re allowed to think too much on themselves than on the team. We’ve got to get stops as a team. We’ve got to get good shots as a team. If we don’t do that, it’s a ripple effect that’s just hard to stop...”

ESPN.com provides an update on Mike Conley:

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley is out for an indefinite period because of soreness in his left Achilles and heel, the team announced Friday.

The Grizzlies did not provide a timetable for his return, saying only that they would provide an update in approximately two weeks.

"It's unfortunate," Grizzlies coach David Fizdale told reporters Friday. "But watching him play in pain like that and really trying to push through that stuff was worse to watch."

Mullinax on Grizzly Bear Blues argues that it might just about be time for would-be-Blazer Chandler Parsons to be in starting lineup:

James Ennis III has done better as a starter than I thought he would, as has Dillon Brooks, but Parsons was brought here to start and lighten the load both scoring and facilitating for Gasol and Conley. The argument can be made that Parsons’ great start is because he’s playing against bench players and as a stretch four, and there would be some truth to that. But he’s also shown the ability to defend elite wings like Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden of late.