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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Preview

The Blazers look to bounce back as they take on the Grizzlies for the first of two games in a row.

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NBA: Play In-Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (8-6) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7-6)

The Portland Trail Blazers will match up against the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night at the Moda Center. The undermanned Trail Blazers will play their second straight game without the pairing of CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are coming off of a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. The Grizzlies are looking to extend their winning streak by winning their sixth straight game.

Wednesday, January 20 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out), Zach Collins (out), CJ McCollum (out), CJ Elleby (day to day)
Grizzlies injuries: Jaren Jackson Jr. (out), Jonas Valanciunas (out), Justise Winslow (out), Jontay Porter (out)
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

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What To Watch For

  • Rodney Hood. Hood had a breakout performance against the Spurs on Monday, scoring 21 points and eclipsing his previous season high of five. Hood has struggled early this season to round back into form after tearing his Achilles early last season. Hood showed some flashes of his pre-injury form in his 21 point performance, but there is the question of whether or not he can replicate his scoring output during the absence of CJ McCollum.
  • Small Ball Lineup. Jonas Valanciunas being out creates a big powerful hole in the middle of the Grizzlies’ lineup. This allows the Trail Blazers to experiment with their small ball lineup, something they are increasingly turning to in the absence of Nurkic. One potential lineup would be Robert Covington acting as a stand-in center while Enes Kanter and Harry Giles sit on the bench. The Grizzlies started Xavier Tillman in the middle in their last game, making the tallest player in their starting lineup Kyle Anderson at 6’9”. Both teams will rely heavily on a small lineup in this matchup.
  • Three-point shooting. The Trail Blazers hit a season low 10 three pointers in their loss to the Spurs on Monday. So far this year, the Blazers have been fourth in the league in three point field goals per game, and ninth in three point percentage. The Blazers are missing their top three point scorer so far this year with McCollum’s absence. The rest of the lineup will need to step up their shooting if the Blazers want to be able to tread water for the duration of McCollum’s injury.

What Others Are Saying

Bryce Hayes of Grizzly Bear Blues talked about the growth of the Grizzlies players in the absence of Ja Morant and how it showed itself in a win against the 76ers.

I’ll be the first to say that the 8 game stretch without any of their star players was huge for the development of the Memphis Grizzlies. The 2nd youngest team in the Association was forced to grow up as they were thrown into the fire and held their own over the stretch as they played respectable .500 basketball. The growth showed early as the Grizzlies bench - a weakness early this season - showed up early led by Grayson Allen & rookie Xavier Tillman Sr. making up for starters that couldn’t remove the imaginary lid from the rim. The Grizzlies (and the 76ers) struggled from the perimeter nearly across the board but once again it was the Grizzlies play in the paint offensively and scrappy play on defense as they lived in passing lanes causing 15 steals as a part of their 22 forced turnovers.

Jeremy Freeborn of Canadian Sports Scene talked about the decision to insert Brandon Clarke in the starting lineup.

The move has paid off for Memphis, as Clarke has been exceptional. In 13 games, and nine starts, Clarke has averaged 13.2 points per game, and 6.1 rebounds per game, with a field goal percentage of .472.

Clarke’s best game this season came on January 8, in a 115-110 Memphis win over the Brooklyn Nets, which are coached by Canadian Hall of Famer Steve Nash of Victoria, British Columbia. In this contest, Clarke was second on the Grizzlies in scoring with 21 points.