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Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies Preview

The Blazers look to finish the road trip strong with a win over the notoriously pesky Grizzlies.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (39-24) at Memphis Grizzlies (25-40)

March 5, 2019 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Grizzlies injuries: Kyle Anderson (game-time decision), Mike Conley (game-time decision), Dillon Brooks (out), Jaren Jackson Jr. (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

A season-defining road trip is nearly over for the Portland Trail Blazers, and the rest of the league is officially on notice. Mid-season acquistions Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood have energized the bench. Hood has a tendency to be a streaky scorer, but he showed off his skills with 27 points in a 118-108 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

While Portland looks to the playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies are looking to the lottery for answers. Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. was having a strong season before getting injured, and the team offloaded star Marc Gasol at the trade deadline. Memphis has won just three of their last ten as they jockey for lottery position, especially considering their 2019 first-round pick is owed to the Boston Celtics if they do not get a top-eight lottery spot. Last time out they gave the Oklahoma City Thunder a heart attack, leading for three quarters before falling 99-95.

What to watch for

  • Avoid the trap. Memphis wants a high draft position to avoid giving up its pick. That does not mean they are just going to roll over for Portland. Even in a losing cause, the players will remain competitive, and the Blazers will need to bring their A-game and not get complacent.
  • Break the defense. The Grizzlies are still first in the NBA in points allowed and remain one of the NBA’s premier defensive teams even after the reshaping of their roster. Portland needs to dictate the pace of play and get Memphis out of their comfort zone.
  • Keep the second unit energized. The bench lineup of Seth Curry, Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, and Jake Layman has done wonders. Now will be the task of reintegrating Evan Turner. Coach Terry Stotts has staggered the minutes of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in his absence, so ironing out the game plan as the playoffs approach will be key.

What they’re saying

Joe Mullinax of Grizzly Bears Blues has a musical musing about the Grizzlies moving forward in the post Gasol era:

As Mike Conley’s beginning ends and he enters a stage of his career with the Grizzlies that includes him being the longest tenured Memphis roster member by a remarkable amount (Conley leads the Grizzlies with 779 regular season games played for Memphis...the next closest is Dillon Brooks, with 100) he has to know that his own days are numbered. There’s nothing like a roster overhaul to bring your own basketball mortality to light.

David Cobb of the Commercial Appeal looks at the possible draft selections for the Grizzlies in the 2019 NBA Draft:

Grizzlies owner Robert Pera might still be clinging to hope that his team wins enough games in the season’s final weeks to convey a top-eight-protected pick to Boston to fulfill the obligations of a 2015 trade. But if the Grizzlies (25-40) don’t start stringing some victories together, Pera and the team’s front office will need to make a draft pick critical for the team’s future in June.