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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Preview

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Portland hopes to catch a break after a recent skid.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (32-27) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (30-28)

The Portland Trail Blazers continue their home stretch with another game against the Memphis Grizzlies at home in the Moda Center. The matchup with Memphis is a crucial one for Portland’s season, and these next few games are make or break. After a heartbreaking 2 point loss in their last meeting on Friday, the Blazers really need to pull off a win.

Sunday, April 25 - 1:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Keljin Blevins (out)
Grizzlies injuries: Jonas Valanciunas (questionable), Jaren Jackson Jr. (out)
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

What To Watch For

  • Comeback Game. It’s what the Blazers do—they come back. They’ve been known to play well under pressure, and to take out their losses on the next team they play. Considering it’s the same team they just lost to, and it’s an important one, I anticipate they’ll come out strong. Hopefully they can keep that up through all four quarters.
  • Nurk Fever. Jusuf Nurkic is a game changer for this team. It seems that how they play is directly correlated to how Nurkic is playing. The last game against Memphis was arguably one of his best games this season. If the Nurkic we saw on Friday can make another appearance in this game, it’s good news for the Blazers.
  • Ja Morant. The Memphis star had 33 points, 13 assists, five rebounds and no turnovers against the Blazers on Friday. There’s a reason there’s so much hype surrounding him, and he’s living up to it. Portland needs to figure out a way to stop him or at least slow him down. The Blazers have struggled all season with defense, but it continues to be an important part of what’s missing.

What Others Are Saying

Nurkic makes a difference for the Trail Blazers and everyone seems to be talking about it. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian quoted Coach Stotts and added his own thoughts:

If the Blazers are to have any chance of turning things around (don’t laugh), they must see this version of Nurkic show up more often. In 24 games this season he is averaging 10 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

“It was his best game of the season,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “That’s obvious. Probably the best thing was that offensively he finished around the basket.”

Ja Morant was a big difference maker for the Grizzlies in Friday’s game, according to benphoga of Grizzly Bear Blues.

He was a maestro with the basketball, able to work and weave his way through the Blazers, either getting to the cup or setting up his teammates. You could tell that Ja was not going to let this game get away from them. It was evident the most in the third quarter, when the it looked like the Blazers might pull away. Instead, Ja took it upon himself to do what he could to score. When he wasn’t able to finish, he was getting to the foul line. He went perfect from the charity stripe, scoring 6 of his 15 that quarter from the free throw line.

It’s worth noting that according to Grizzlies PR, Ja Morant is the third player EVER to score 33+ points, shot 60% or better from the field, and get 13 or more assists without a turnover. The other two – Baron Davis and John Stockton.

The last game against Memphis was heartbreaking for Trail Blazers fans. The team is known for coming in clutch, unfortunately this time they fell short. The game recap on ESPN quoted Coach Stotts:

Lillard was fouled and made his first free throw but his second rimmed out and Portland couldn’t catch up.

“They pushed the pace on us the entire game. Obviously we didn’t shoot the ball from three in the fourth quarter, but that wasn’t the reason we lost. We really didn’t take away their transition all for most of the night, and that, and the fourth quarter, I think made the difference,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.