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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Preview

After a strong win over the Pacers, the Blazers take on a recent foe.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (33-28) vs Memphis Grizzlies (31-29)

The Portland Trail Blazers play the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis for their third and final matchup this year. The Trail Blazers are coming off of a big win last night, but a five game losing streak before that and are looking to build on their momentum from their last game. The Grizzlies lost their last game to the Nuggets but beat the Blazers two games in a row before this, and they are looking to complete the sweep.

Wednesday, April 28 - 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out)
Grizzlies injuries: None
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

What To Watch For

  • Back To Back. The Blazers are coming off of a game last night against the Pacers, making this game against the Grizzlies not only the second of a back to back, but also their third game in four nights. However, the Blazers were able to rest their starters a bit more than usual against the Pacers, and Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum played just 31 and 24 minutes respectively. Even with the extra rest, the second night of a road back to back is never easy, and the Blazers could show signs of fatigue in this game.
  • Fight For Playoff Positioning. The Blazers and Grizzlies are the 7th and 8th seeds in the West, and would both be in the play-in game if the season ended today. This game is a huge game for both teams, as if the Blazers win, it would pull the within a half a game of the Mavericks for the 6th seed, the first seed to be guaranteed a playoff spot, but if the Grizzlies win, they jump up to only being half a game back from the Blazers for 7th. Both teams really want to win this game, regardless of the fact that the Grizzlies have already secured the tiebreaker in this match up.
  • Defense. The Blazers’ approach all year has been that the best defense is a good offense, and this line of thinking has led them to possessing what would be the third worst defensive rating in NBA history if the season ended today. In the last two games against the Grizzlies, Memphis averaged 125 points per game, and the Blazers have to seriously reduce that number if they want any chance of winning their third game against the Grizzlies this week.

What Others Are Saying

Memphis rookie Xavier Tillman’s defense was highlighted by Parker Fleming of Grizzly Bear Blues.

What more can be said about Xavier Tillman’s defense? Despite lacking the ideal size for the 5 spot, his physicality and his switch-ability are prototypical for the “center” position.

Over the past month, he’s gotten a big test in playing physical centers. He’s had numerous battles with Daniel Theis and Nikola Vucevic. He’s also gone up against All-Star big men Domantas Sabonis and MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic. After the latest Chicago game, Tillman talked about how much he enjoyed physical matchups — especially against other physical players— and how getting the less strict whistle definitely makes it more fun. His physicality has played a big part in his rim protection, as opponents are shooting 3.2% worse within 6 feet when Tillman’s the primary defender.

Mark Giannotto of Commercial Appeal talks about the importance of this game for the Grizzlies.

There is a lot at stake because, heading into Tuesday night’s NBA slate, Portland had a one-game lead on Memphis for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference standings. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, were tied with San Antonio and just a half-game ahead of Golden State.

There is also a sense that something special could be brewing, or at least the start of something special.

“This is damn near the playoffs for us,” Justise Winslow declared.